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Robert Abbott “Bobby” Sengstacke: 1943-2017

Bobby Sengstacke Watching the Painting of the Wall of Respect, Chicago, 1967.

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Robert Abbott “Bobby” Sengstacke, 1943-2017, a legendary Chicago photographer of the Civil Rights Movement, Black culture, and the Black Arts Movement. He died at the age of 73 on March 7, 2017 after a long battle with illness. Sengstacke was one of the city’s most prolific documentary photographers who was best known for capturing the African American experience.  Having grown up in the newspaper business (he was the grand-nephew of Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender), Sengstacke was able to learn from established African American photographers at a young age and had unique access to important events and people. The Visual Resources Center has had the privilege of working with Rebecca Zorach over the past 8 years to digitize over 5,900 of Sengstacke’s negatives to create Images of Black Chicago: The Robert Sengstacke Photography Archive.  Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends and all who knew him.

The Chicago Defender’s obituary can be found here: Prominent Photojournalist and Former Chicago Defender Editor, Robert A. Sengstacke Dies at 73

top left: Bud Billiken Parade, c. 1967; top right: William Walker at the Painting of the Wall of Respect, 1967; bottom left: East 63th Street, c. 1966; bottom right: Opportunity Please Knock, 1967

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