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Looking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of John Reese Display Coming to NACC

January 30, 2023

Roman Pettway

Looking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of John Reese, a travelling exhibition, was created and is provided free of charge by the Birmingham Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts to Northeast Alabama Community College February 1-28, 2023.

Looking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of Gee’s Bend is a photographic record of the rural community of Gee’s Bend, situated in Alabama’s “Black Belt” in a deep bend of the Alabama River. The river and unmaneuverable roads served as a barrier between Gee’s Bend and other more populous sections of the region until the late 1960s when the roads in and out of the community were paved. For this reason, life in Gee’s Bend remained relatively free of modern outside influences until then.

John Reese photographed the residents of Gee’s Bend in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and these poignant images reveal the lives of its people at work, at church, at play, and at home in the agricultural setting of Gee’s Bend as it was in 1980. Most of the families who lived in Gee’s Bend at the time were descendants of slaves who remained in the region as tenant-farmers following emancipation. This fact, coupled with the humanist perspective of John Reese’s lens, makes this exhibition both emotionally stirring and historically important.

“Northeast Alabama Community College is honored to be one of the locations selected to host this traveling exhibition,” notes Dr. Julia Everett, Head Librarian. “We believe this exhibition will be of interest to both our students and the community.”

The exhibition will be on display for public viewing from February 1-28, 2023, in the Cecil B. Word Learning Resources Center’s Archives and Special Collections Room (Room 206). The Archives and Special Collections Room is open Monday-Thursday 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m. and Friday 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon or other times by appointment.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Blake Wilhelm at or call him at 256-228-6001 or 256-638-4418, extension 2288.


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