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Remembering Black History After Black History Month

Augusta Savage posing with her sculpture, "Realization"

In the Harlem Renaissance, Augusta Savage was one of the leading artists. She was an influential activist, and an arts educator too. Savage loved creating artwork when she was a young child; she fought many battles in order for her real dream to come true, such as: her father, whom she said, "almost whipped the art right out of her", struggling through finances in a new city, and of course, racism.

In 1923, Savage was rejected the opportunity to take a summer school program in France because of her race. However, she took the rejection as a "call to action," as she lent letters that became headlines throughout the media about the discriminatory practices in the program's selection committee. One committee member named Herman MacNeil, later regretted that ruling and invited her to further engage in her craft at his Long Island studio. Many years later, her legacy and dream began to grow; she had many opportunities to study abroad and get many awards for it. Then she created a sculpture for the 1939's New York's World Fair. She created artworks in other art centers in the area. However, she grew frustrated because of her struggles to reestablish herself from losing her directorial position at The Harlem Community Centre. Savage died of cancer in 1962, but her legacy remains till this very day.

Jacob Armstead Lawrence's artwork, "The Migration of the Negro"

Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He moved with his mother and sister to Harlem in 1930 at age 13. There, during his participation in community art workshops, Lawrence discovered his love of art. The cultural visionaries of the Harlem Renaissance-inspired Lawrence's art. In 1940, the Rosenwald Foundation presented him with a grant to create a 60-panel epic, The Migration of the Negro (now known as The Migration Series). This artwork of his tells the story of the Great Migration (mass movement) of over one million African Americans from the South to the North in the early decades of the 20th century. It was a period that significantly altered the social, economic, political, and cultural fabric of American society. Lawrence continued to create paintings drawn from the African American experience as well as historical and contemporary themes, such as war, religion, and civil rights. Jacob Lawrence combined Social Realism, modern abstraction, pared-down composition, and bold color to create compelling stories of African American experiences and the history of the United States. Lawrence strove to communicate human struggles and aspirations that resonated with diverse viewers. He became a teacher to teach art and spread his love for it. Lawrence's long-running career produced a profile and style that speaks dramatically, graphically, and movingly to viewers of all colors and persuasions.

These two artists' similarities span much higher than just their talents. Both their struggles and determination fought against their opponents, and they never took criticism as a reason to give up. They faced many challenges on their journey when becoming artists because of their race and color, however, they still spread their love, ambition, passion for art, their messages behind their work, and what they want from this world. Never giving up showed their ability to stand firm for their people and race. They turned their art into a passage, a message, and their form of communication; it spoke loudly and powerfully, maybe even more than words would have. All the student artworks for Black History Month have a meaning and message behind it, and they put much hard work into them. Everyone should learn from these two brilliant artists. When one faces challenges or criticism, never give up!

- by Nabiha Imran and Haniya Kashif

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

“Selfish prudence is too often allowed to come between duty and human life.”

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American female doctor. She graduated in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College after spending eight years as a nurse. Dr. Crumpler set a precedent by paving the way for all females, and African-Americans aspiring to become doctors. She has a profound impact by revolutionizing racial and gendered stereotypes and breaking the boundaries placed by society.

- Richa Bhandari

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond was a Canadian civil rights activist and businesswoman who was born in Nova Scotia in 1914. She is famous for confronting racial segregation in a New Glasglow cinema by refusing to leave a ‘whites only’ section of the theater. She was arrested in 1946, jailed overnight and convicted without any legal representation. Viola’s action and her arrest sparked inspiration in the generations of Black Nova Scotians who would succeed her. Despite the fierce support from her family and the Black community, she went unpardoned for the entirety of her lifetime. Not only was Viola a passionate activist but also a beautician and mentor to Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. She was one of the few successful black businesswomen in Nova Scotia at the time and paved the way for the social acceptance of black women in positions of higher economical power. Her influence is long lasting as illustrated through the Bank of Canada’s decision to feature Viola on the $10 bill in 2018. She is the first woman to be featured by herself on a banknote and as of 2018 Viola Desmond was named a National Historic Person by the Canadian government.

- by Emma Dorval





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