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NEW ORLEANS — Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, a month-long celebration remembering the important contributions that African Americans have made in our nation’s history.

In honor of Black History Month, News with a Twist is featuring the people of New Orleans and beyond who helped to shape our community.

Paul Bedou is one of those people.

Xavier University President C. Reynold Verret says Bedou was one of America’s greatest photographers who spent decades chronicling the life of black Americans, New Orleans, American presidents and HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities).

“He photographed Teddy Roosevelt.  He photographed Booker T. Washington and traveled with him,” Verret recalls.

Bedou was born in New Orleans on Bayou Road, not far from the fairgrounds.

Xavier is home to more than 170 of his photos.

“He chronicled the experience of our students at Xavier,” Verret says. “Projecting through his artwork was hope and the belief in the people he was photographing.”

Bedou was so loved at Xavier, the university has a scholarship in his name that was established after his death in the 1960s.