A photo of the Howard University marching band was first published in 1978 with the caption, "The Howard University Marching Band Drummers Give The Best To The Marchers." (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
A photo of the Howard University marching band was first published in 1978 with the caption, "The Howard University Marching Band Drummers Give The Best To The Marchers." (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Cassandra Illidge said she grew up recognizing the importance of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Now, as the vice president of partnerships at Getty Images, she believes in preserving the history and legacy of HBCUs.

So, imagine her excitement when Getty Images announced it would partner with the Getty Family and Stand Together to launch the inaugural Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs.

According to Illidge, the grants will cover the cost for the digitization of the visual history of HBCUs.

“It’s such a pleasure to lead this effort on the Getty side,” Illidge said. “Similar to most corporations in the world, we took a hard look at ourselves as a leader in this industry to see what we can do differently. We wanted to make sure we were making impactful changes.”

The grants will provide $500,000 to digitize the photo archives for two HBCUs that can total up to 100,000 archival assets per grant recipient. Under the program, grant recipients retain all copyright for visual assets.

The digitized content will be converted to the “HBCU Photo Collection” and be available for Getty Images licensing. In addition, the collection will be available free as part of Getty Images’ content donation initiative for non-commercial use, Illidge noted.

About 2,000 students occupied the administration building for a third straight day in 1968. Here, two students place a “Black University” sign over the administration building’s front door. (Courtesy of Bettmann Archives)

She said 50 percent of the royalties will go towards grant recipients, 30 percent for a donation to a new United Negro College Fund-Getty Images Scholarship fund for HBCU education and 20 percent will be reinvested annually into Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs.

The UNCF-Getty Images Scholarship for students at HBCUs provides awards to students attending those schools across the country. Revenue created by the inaugural Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs will fund the scholarships.

“Our industry and Getty Images have not historically worked from a foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Illidge, who has worked at Getty for more than two decades.

“We have built a program not only to honor the legacy and history of HBCUs and their contribution to American history but a program which will support our students’ futures,” Illidge said. “For Getty Images to move the world, we must ensure that all content creators, their work and their stories are preserved. We are committed to making content accessible and to ensuring a more authentic representation of history.”

Officials at Stand Together, a nonprofit based in Arlington, Virginia, which assists philanthropic activities across the country, said they’re excited to build the organization’s long-standing support for the HBCU community by participating with Getty Images and UNCF.

“By bringing images from HBCU archives to millions of more people, the new curation will help celebrate the unique contributions that HBCUs, their graduates and faculty members have made and continue to make to our country,” Stand Together CEO Brian Hooks said in a statement.

In addition to being available to license on the Getty Images platform, the HBCU Photo Collection will also be made available as part of Getty Images’ content donation initiative for non-commercial use free of charge in support of learning about and reflecting on Black history for Black storytellers and not-for-profits as part of the Getty Images Black History & Culture Collection launching later in 2021.

Getty Images Co-founder and Chairman Mark Getty added his perspective.

“A photographic archive tells a story; it’s a visual history of who we are,” he said. “As a society, we can only learn from history if it tells everyone’s story. This partnership is an important step in that direction.”

Officials will accept applications to the Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs through Thursday, September 30 at 11:59 p.m. PST. 

For more information or to apply to the Getty Images Photo Archive Grants for HBCUs, go to: https://grants.gettyimages.com/hbcu-grant.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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