Harry Adams, also known as “One Shot Harry,” was one of the best-known members of the Los Angeles African American community. Having access to the city’s inner circle, he became known for his images of politicians, entertainers, and society figures. Adams worked as a freelancer for the California Eagle and Los Angeles Sentinel for 35 years and had a number of churches and lawyers as clients. His collection is particularly rich in its documentation of African American social life including images of social organizations, churches, schools, civil rights organizations, protests and cultural events.
Born in Arkansas in 1918, Adams became interested in photography when he was 12 years old. His photographic career began after he completed a tour of duty in World War II and graduated from the California School of Photography and Graphic Design.
The collection of over 10,000 images for the period 1950–1985 is rich in its depiction of the unique lives of African Americans in and around the Los Angeles area. There are many images of important black political leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Malcolm X, and many others. Also included are images of Coretta Scott King, Rev. Maurice Dawkins; Mayor Tom Bradley; Jackie Robinson; Rev. H. H. Brookins, Congresswoman and County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke (the first African American woman to represent the West Coast in Congress); Leon and Ruth Washington (founders of the Los Angeles Sentinel); Jessie Jackson; Julian Bond; Cassius Clay; Dr. H. Claude Hudson (founder of the NAACP); civil rights attorney and California Superior Court Justice Loren Miller; and many musicians and entertainers.