GAYLE, JAMES FRANKLIN (5 Feb. 1920-1 July 1991) was one of the first 2 African American photographers to work for a Cleveland daily newspaper. He was born in Tuskegee, Ala., the son of James and Bessie Gayle. His father, who taught physical education at Tuskegee Institute, moved the family to Cleveland when James was 3. After graduating from East High School, Gayle served as a musician in the U.S. Navy during WORLD WAR II. A saxophonist, he also played and toured with the Ernie Freeman dance band (see ERNEST FREEMAN) following the war. He developed an interest in photography through a subsequent job in a photography shop. After marrying the former Juanita Wade in 1958, he opened a studio in Cleveland and began selling pictures as a free lancer to the CLEVELAND CALL AND POST, the PLAIN DEALER, and Ebony and Jet magazines. Among his subjects were such national figures as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. He also photographed local inventor GARRETT A. MORGAN along with his patented traffic light shortly before the latter's death. Soon after Van Dillard broke the color barrier on the photography staff of the CLEVELAND PRESS, Gayle was hired by the Plain Dealer in 1968. He retired for health reasons 22 years later. Buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY, Gayle was survived by his wife and a daughter, Gina.
James F. Gayle Photograph Collection, WRHS.