Now, this has to be one of my favorite PeaceBang reads ever.
I was at Harvard Divinity School to cheer on my dear friend, the Rev. Cynthia Kane, as she received one of the Peter J. Gomes Memorial Honors. She was in the company of seriously illustrious co-honorees, one of whom was the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard, Dean and Professor of Religion and Culture at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC.
We started chatting a little bit after the ceremony and luncheon — I think it was because he saw me photographing Quadricos Driskell for this blog — and much to my surprise and delight, Dr. Pollard reacted in a friendly, inviting and warm way to the subject of this blog when I told him why I was photographing clergy. I usually get a kind of puzzled look or sometimes a sniffy, snotty dismissal of my purposes here, so I was full-on psyched to get to talk to this amazingly accomplished and impressive religious leader. I asked if I could take his picture, and he said that I could.
“I’m not really fashionable or anything,” he laughed (or something to that effect), and I said, “Oh no, quite the contrary — you’re a fantastic example of what I mean when I write about consciously creating an image. You’re wearing this beautiful top, and you talked today about your special love for the ‘children of the continent of Africa in diaspora,’ so your outfit emphasizes and makes visual your ties to that ministry. Where is it from?”
Dr. Pollard said, “Well! That was quite a read!” And we both laughed and he told me that his shirt is from Ghana, where he has traveled many times, and we had a great talk about clergy image and how touched I was that he profusely and romantically thanked his wife when he received his award. BOY, talk about a fast track to a special place in my heart. One of the honorees didn’t thank anybody at all and just talked allllllll about herself and her amazingness, which is always a dead giveaway, am I right? I don’t need to tell you for what.
But Dr. Pollard gave an amazing talk, and honestly, I was fan girl thrilled that I even got to meet him. Best of all, could you love these photographs more? If there was a coffee table book of just portraits of him being himself, I would buy it.