Tuesday, February 2, 2016

African American History Notes

I'll begin with Sojourner Truth because truth is beauty.  I grew up in the Southern United States during a time before the Civil Rights Movement and I have been trying for the past several decades to educate myself about a part of our American history that is still unknown to most of us. We were just not taught as children about African Americans contributions to our collective culture.  When I read some of these stories now, stories of incredible talent and strength in the face of tragic injustice, I am so moved and inspired by their courage and indomitable spirit.  I know that some of my ancestors were probably the source of some of their pain, and I know some helped to alleviate their burdens, but this is not about me or white guilt. This is about black power and black beauty, an essential interconnected part of our American DNA.
I am posting some images of remarkable women here today in the hopes that just a glimpse of their amazing faces might inspire you to look them up and discover some of the buried gold of our American ancestry.  Some you will know already, some are relatively unknown.  When you click the wikipedia link-- read about their childhoods and education and the paths to their accomplishments. 

 Sarah Breedlove, or Madame C.J Walker-- one of the wealthiest women in America, was an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and the first woman self-made millionaire. 

  Edmonia Lewis-- an American sculptor

 Zora Neale Hurston, a great American writer of novels, short stories, plays and essays. She was also a folklorist and anthroplogist.  One of my favorite writers.

Here's another sculptor, Augusta Savage.  Beautiful work from an artist of the Harlem Renaissance

Marie Maynard Daly was a chemist. She was a researcher and teacher and worked with the American heart Association studying the effects of hypertension on the circulatory system.

Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, humanitarian, Union spy during the Civil War and suffragist. She helped countless refugee slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

I will close with this glamorous image of Joyce Bryant, a singer and performer with a voice and sex appeal that catapulted her to fame in the 1950's as the "blond bronze bombshell." She sang in nightclubs and  with opera companies. Still alive at age 87.