The Graduation

Prentice H. Polk


Prentice H. Polk was the leading chronicler of African American life in Alabama in the twentieth century. He also captured now iconic images of countless dignitaries, including Dr. George Washington Carver, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, W. C. Handy, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Born in Bessemer, Alabama, Polk studied photography at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute from 1916 until 1920. After working various jobs in Mobile, Chickasaw, and Chicago, Polk returned to Tuskegee in 1927, where he opened a private photography studio and became faculty of Tuskegee Institute’s Photography Division. After several promotions, in 1939, Polk accepted the position of Official Photographer of the Institute, a post he kept until his death in 1984.