Happy Facial Hair Friday! This self portrait, with carefully groomed mustache in the center, is a glamorous photo of a hardworking, groundbreaking photographer.
James Stephen “Steve” Wright was from a working-class family in Washington, DC. By the 1940s he was head of photographic operations for the Federal Works Agency.
In an interview with Nicholas Natason, Wright recalled that “In those days, it was tough for a black man even to become a file clerk in the government … You had to mind your P’s and Q’s, because there were lower-level whites who resented the fact that you were doing photography at all and were waiting for you to stumble.”
But Wright was extremely good at his job; he was efficient, diplomatic and organized. In 1957, Wright was appointed as Photographic Branch Chief at the Department of State. He created State’s first central file on diplomatic personalities, events, and facilities.
Read the full story of Wright’s Federal career over on the Pieces of History blog.
Image: Steve Wright during his Federal Works Agency days. National Archives (208-NP-IY-1).