University of Southern California

Center for Religion & Civic Culture

Colleagues Mourn Jerry Berndt

Image of Colleagues Mourn Jerry Berndt

The staff and associates of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, the noted photographer Jerry Berndt. Berndt collaborated with Donald Miller and CRCC on several projects over the years, notably a traveling exhibit, “The Soul of Los Angeles: Portraits of Faith, Hope, and Social Transformation.” The exhibit traveled to over two dozen venues, including public libraries, universities, and the California State Capitol.

In 2004, Miller and Berndt published “Orphans of the Rwanda Genocide: Portraits of Survival and Hope,” a photo essay that included interviews with members of AOCM, an association of orphan heads of households. In association with the California African American Museum, CRCC created a traveling exhibit, “Orphans of the Rwanda Genocide.”

Images from Berndt’s “Soul of Los Angeles” are on perpetual display at the offices of CRCC and the Cecil Murray Center, a daily reminder of his powerful insight into our city. He once described the exhibit this way: “When I look at the photographs  taken from the past three visits to Los Angeles, I see a repeating theme, hands  praying, hands  in supplication, hands of thanks, hands that are needy, hands that heal, hands that work together, and hands that resist and demand change. I believe that this ‘spirit’—this religious diversity, and even necessity— is what makes America strong.”

The USC Digital Library includes a collection of 774 photographs shot by Jerry Berndt.