For Sale: An Extraordinary Collection of Photos Taken By (And Of!) the Legendary R.C. Hickman

SammyDavisJrinDallas1954.jpg
Photo by R.C. Hickman
Sammy Davis Jr. pays a Dallas radio station a visit in June 1954.
In December 2007 we said farewell to R.C. Hickman, the Mineola native who became the staff photographer at the Dallas Star Post and whose astonishing body of work tells the story of black Dallas in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Most of his photos reside in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin; you can browse some of them here as well, or buy a copy of his book. But I just came across an extraordinary cache of Hickman photos on eBay, many of which appear to be originals, as they bear the stamp from Hickman's studio located at 3313 Oakland. One is even autographed.

The photos are all being sold at buy-it-now prices ($50!) by Fort Worth-based Mid Century Gallery, whose Joseph Clayton just told me that they came from Hickman's personal collection and "are not photos found in the UT collection." Clayton says they were purchased three months ago "at an auction of his private collection." He said he's tried to sell them at auction but could find no takers; hence, the first-come-first-served offering.

There are photos of Martin Luther King Jr., Sammy Davis Jr. and boxer Curtis Cokes; another features Hickman and some jazz pals in Manhattan, and he's explained who's who on the back. You'll also find more everyday scenes -- like a car inspection or a shot of Stamp Day, the kind of photos that defined Hickman's work. As Barbara Jordan wrote in her intro to the book, "These are images of the ordinary lives of extraordinary people who succeeded in spite of all the obstacles in their path, and who eventually demanded and, in important ways, won their rights."
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Chevytexas
Chevytexas

The St.John the Baptist and the auto mechanics are representative of the vanished neighborhood Frogtown behind St. Peter's church along Woodall Rogers (I grew up knowing Hibernia Street closer to McKinney); that later became the large Mosque in the Sixties and was torn down for a mysteriously unfinished power plant. The properties surrounding its back are still... mysteriously undeveloped. Lots of stories in that neighborhood only survive through his photographs.

rke
rke

RW, thanks for mentioning Curtis Cokes.  When he won the title in the mid-sixties, he was about the only ray of light in a very dark time.

smy2k
smy2k

I was lucky enough to meet RC at the "Best Of" party when I worked at the Observer in the mid 90s. I wanted a signed book and he gave me his number and the following Saturday evening he welcomed me into his home. I ended up being there something like 3 hours sipping bourbon with him. Talking about the party and looking at his work learning about Dallas history. He was such a cool guy. He truly did change my life that day with his wisdom and life experience. 

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Indeed, that was shortly after we moved into the Commerce St. building in '95 -- the walls were decorated with his work, and he mingled amongst the crowd for a long while. We sat in my office and chatted for a little bit, and somewhere, in my boxes, is an interview we did that evening. I'll see if I can dig it up.

pencil
pencil

Thank you for the heads up, I now have a original photograph of MLK as a companion to my R.C. Hickman signed book.This isn't the first time I've been prompted to buy on ebay after learning about it here.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

For the first time since posting photos from eBay here, I actually bought one as well -- RC and the jazzmen. Those were some fine players. And, of course, there's RC among 'em, his writing on the back of the photo.

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