In June of 1969, Brenda and I had been married at a Bible College across the street from the apartment building where we lived. We were not affiliated with the school, you might call it a wedding of convenience. In our spare time we were loosely connected to the civil rights and peace movements.
There were the usual marches locally, which by and large were peaceful. There was a succession of speakers in churches and Eden Park addressing the issues of the day, be it voting rights or the war in Vietnam. To this end, Brenda volunteered to work on the Independent Eye newspaper. I had completed four years in the USAF being honorably discharged in November of 1965. I was trying to find my way as a photojournalist and the ‘Eye’ was willing to publish my work.
In October of 1969 there was to be a Vietnam War Moratorium in Washington DC. We decided that we would join others on a bus charter to our nation’s capital. After the long bus trip and upon our arrival we could easily see that this demonstration and march would be quite unlike anything we had participated in back home. Our group eventually made it to the Washington Monument and with the homemade Peace flag represented the Queen City.
Award-winning photojournalist Melvin Grier developed his passion for photography while serving with the U.S. Air Force in the early 1960s. He submitted several of his early photos to a contest sponsored by the military newspaper Stars and Stripes and won first and second place. The rest, as they say, is history.
Out of the service, Grier worked for a year as an assistant to Cincinnati photographer Austin Bewsey before taking a job shooting half-tones for Young & Klein Lithographers. He started Terra, a short-lived but critically acclaimed photography magazine, and then was hired in 1974 by
The Cincinnati Post. He retired December 31, 2007, the same day the Post ceased publishing.
On assignments, Grier has traveled to Cuba, El Salvador, Eritrea, Honduras, Kenya, Puerto Rico, Somalia, Vietnam, and the Virgin Islands.
His photos have been published in Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, US, Ebony, Jet and Advertising Age.
In addition to receiving 10 photography awards from the Society for Professional Journalists, Grier has earned accolades from the Associated Press Society of Ohio, the Press Club of Cleveland, the Ohio News Photographer Association, United Press International and Cincinnati Magazine.
Grier’s work has appeared in dozens of exhibits including the recent ”A Joyful Noise,” a collection of photographs related to music and dance on display at the Cathedral Basilica Gallery in Covington, Kentucky in early 2004. His work has been on display several times at the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati including a one-man show in 1994 entitled ”Souls In Bondage: Essays of East Africa.”
Grier was named the 2004 Robert Duncanson Artist In Residence at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati OH.An exhibit, 15/retro 15/active was featured in the Dater Education room during the month of November.
In 2011 from April 30 to June 11 Grier had a one man show, ”White People: A Retrospective” at Kennedy Heights Arts Center. The exhibit broke attendance records for KHAC and received much media attention.
Along with Michael Wilson and Michael Kearns, Grier presented ”Let’s Face It”, a series of black and white portraits that sought to answer the question of what we learn by simply looking at someone. Each photograph was accompanied by a questionnaire that revealed some of the subject’s thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. This exhibit was part of FotoFocus 2012, a region wide series of photographic exhibitions.
Melvin Grier also serves on the Board of FotoFocus and is a Cincinnati Park Board Trustee.