Remembering a Forgotten Photographer of Chicago History

He took photographs of the Eastland disaster, the race riots, and every picture you’ve seen of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Jun Fujita was also the country’s first Japanese-American photojournalist.

Chicago Tonight unearths the buried legacy of the great photographer, and explores the multifaceted background of a man who was also a poet, a carpenter and visual artist.

We traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, to find a living relative, who shared stories of Fujita’s encounter with Al Capone, and his lifelong love affair with the woman he could not marry for decades because of miscegenation laws of the era.

  • Jun Fujita (Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Jun Fujita (Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Jun Fujita (Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Jun Fujita (Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

    Indiana Dunes (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of Graham and Pamela Lee)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

  • (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

    (Jun Fujita / Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

More on this story

You can learn more at the Poetry Foundation, which presents the exhibition “Jun Fujita: Oblivion” through May 26.

More: Read Fujita’s poems


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