Victoria Johnson came across the decades-old photo 15 years ago in a book she bought at a used book store.
“I found this picture in whatever book it was and I was just so mesmerized by it,” Johnson told CNN. “I just wanted to know who this family was.”
The lost photo depicted a Black family from the 1960s — a husband, his wife and their two daughters. As a historian and professor at Hunter College at CUNY, Johnson said she was drawn to it.
“I used to get the picture out every now and then, it was on my shelf, and I would just look at it. And just think about these people,” Johnson said.
She often wondered about their experience as Americans and was curious if they were still around, she said.
“This was a black family and I’m white,” said Johnson. “I know they lived different lives from me because this was a picture from probably the 1960s.”
“A lot of Americans have been thinking about race lately,” she said. “My students help me think about that, my colleagues, the historians and activists I follow on Twitter. … It was all kind of swirling around in my mind and then I saw the picture.”
Hoping to share the photo with the family and give them back a piece of their lost history, she posted the picture to Twitter.
The tweet quickly gained traction with thousands of people from around the country joining in to help solve the mystery.
“It was like this huge joint national…
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