James Reade Venable

Basking In Glory
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Location: New York, NY
Nationality: American
Biography: James Reade Venable ( b. 1978, USA) is a photographer based in New York City and Brussels. He is the 2x winner of London Photo Festival's Monthly Competitions His photos have been published in several publications including F-Stop, Black +... MORE
Public Story
Basking In Glory
Copyright James Reade Venable 2022
Updated Jan 2021
Topics African American, College, Community, Documentary, Editorial, Education, Elections, Feminism, Joy, Kamala Harris, Leadership, Minority, Photography, Photojournalism, Politics, Reporting, School/College, Sorority, Woman
It was just another weekend in New York City for this struggling photographer/delivery guy/actor. Just another Saturday spent hustling family photos in a popular tourist spot with a couple that may or may not be in love. But it wasn't. For a November day it was quite warm, so warm in fact that, people in Central Park were taking their shirts off, men primarily now that I think back, we weren't in the Mediterranean after all. But none the less, it was hot.

After trying my best to not mess up capturing a couple in their 30's with their infant amongst the golden leaved backdrop, I decided to hang around the park because I had to meet my wife. Besides, the weather was too nice for November to not take advantage of this pristine day. I finished my family portrait gig at the famed Bethesda Fountain. As the family parted and I waited in desperation for a tip, I heard a roar off in the distance, saw a very emotional white girl start crying, then a sudden cheer from a crowd of black women all dressed in black.

I wasn't tipped by the family that seemed in love. Anyhow, this crowd of women intrigued me. A group of about 25 black women, dressed in very form fitting pants and shirts with the same insignia were cheering. I wandered closer and since I love taking photos of the people of New York, I decided I would capture a few. I did. As I was shooting I overheard a few interesting tid bits.  One, news just came over the wire, let me rephrase now that we are in 2020, probably popped up on social media that Joe Biden was pretty much the president elect. Oh yeah, this November Saturday was the 7th. Hence the far off roars. The next tid bit was one of pure coincidence. This group of women I saw before me was Kamala Harris' sorority. And as you all should know Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's running mate and the first African American, Women, and Asian Vice President Elect.

Alpha Kappa Alpha. This was the group of women. This is the sorority. After I received the tidbits of news I figured I was onto something, so I enquired as to why they were there? It turns out it was a photo shoot for their anniversary, or so I was told by the actual photographer who was hired for the shoot; whom I accosted to ask questions and also check out what gear he was shooting with.

AKA. Alpha Kappa Alpha. The first African American sorority, established at the esteemed Howard University. The insignia of Salmon Pink and Apple Green fastened over each women's heart. They are known as Alpha Women, or Pretty Girls; and they were beautiful, and everything about their energy denoted to the former nickname.
Alumni include Regina Taylor, Wanda Sykes, Lynn Whitfield, Star Jones and of course Kamala Harris.

Just a few things about the Alpha Kappa Alpha. They are the first sorority to operate a federal job training center (Job Corps), they have helped build schools in Africa and bring computer technology to these regions, they hold the Guiness Book Of World Record for the largest recorded silver service convention banquet dinner with 16,206 members.

Many more interesting accomplishments garner this sorority, but they also have their share of drama. Prostitution allegations, hazing deaths and suicide. But like a great novel, a sorority has many chapters, literally. All I know is I was fortunate enough to capture these sisters also known as sorors to their members on a very special day. I now wonder if the sunlight I captured was the "Ivies Beyond The Wall". This is how they refer to the sisters who have passed away.

I quickly got to work and tried to capture the moment as the cheers from groups of the people in Central Park were also realizing the Biden-Harris win. I needed to capture this wonderful moment in time, especially this year which left us with so little. So here are the photos.

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Basking In Glory by James Reade Venable
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