Renowned photographer and activist Roy Lewis (b. 1937) was born in Natchez, Mississippi. He grew up on a plantation where his father worked as a sharecropper harvesting cotton. At five years old, Roy’s mother died, and his maternal grandparents raised him. After high school graduation, Roy joined relatives in Chicago, was drafted into the army, and landed a job at Johnson Publishing. His first camera cost just $25 and his talent was recognized when Jet Magazine published his photograph of musician Thelonius Monk in 1964.

In 1968, Roy worked at Northeastern University, filming student activities. As a full-time freelance photographer, Roy traveled to Zaire to film the Ali-Foreman fight—this critical, historical video would later be featured in the Hollywood film, “When We Were Kings.” His 20 twenty-minute 1969 black and white film on U.S. poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, called “Ridin” and Stridin,” Reachin” and Teachin,” was screened in 2017 at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. He received a Master of Arts and Community Education from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio.

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