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Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

Street photographer highlights Toledo's Black experience

James Dickerson, who goes by 'Dirtykics', captures everyday moments on the streets of Toledo, documenting history at the same time.

TOLEDO, Ohio — February is a month where we honor history makers in the Black community.

James Dickerson is documenting what's happening now to share in the history books of tomorrow.

Laid out on the floor are photographs Dickerson took on many trips around the streets of Toledo. Each one showing an everyday person in their own environment.

"Street photography stuff came from me wanting to connect with people who have no secrets," Dickerson said, "and you know everyone has secrets, but they don't wake up with intent to hide those things, they wake up with intent to fulfill some aspect of their life."

Armed with his trusty film camera, itself a piece of history from 1957, he says a quick conversation about life is usually enough to convince someone to take a picture. 

Others are candid, documenting moments in Toledo history.

"I want to document the Black experience, I want to document the brown experience, I want to document everything that I can because there's people who don't have those trails left behind," Dickerson said.

Dickerson's art name is Dirtykics, borrowed from a Wu-Tang Clan lyric.

The moniker reminds him getting out on the street and getting his shoes dirty is how he can capture real moments.

This past year, he's been documenting lives of people during the pandemic.

"One of the things that I noticed with COVID is that neighborhoods woke up. More people are outside, they're actually engaging their neighbors. I hadn't personally seen anything like that since the 90s," Dickerson said.

Dickerson's hope is that by documenting everyday Toledoans, he captures the true essence of the city and his snapshots will resonate with future generations walking the same streets.