Sunday, February 28, 2010

James Benson Dudley

I was trying to relax today but my conscience got the better of me and I decided to go in and get a little work done. I'm glad I did, finished yet another portrait.
Select to see larger image
Wilmington native James Benson Dudley (1859-1925) was for twenty-nine years the president of North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College, the predecessor institution of North Carolina A. & T. State University. His contributions, arguably the most important of any individual to that school’s history, are commemorated on campus through the name of a street and a building. In Wilmington, where he is buried, a monument was erected in the 1980s to his memory.

Dudley was born into slavery, the son of John and Annie Dudley, the property of the family of Edward B. Dudley, the state’s governor from 1836 to 1841. Young Dudley was educated by private teachers and in the freedmen’s school in Wilmington. He graduated from Shaw University and in time received an M.A. from Livingstone College and LL.D. from Wilberforce University. His first teaching position was in a first grade classroom in Sampson County in 1880. The following year he assumed the principalship of Peabody Graded Normal School in his hometown, where he remained for fifteen years. In that period he also served terms as editor of the weekly Wilmington Chronicle and as register of deeds.

In 1896 John O. Crosby, who had since the founding of A. & M. College five years earlier served as its president, resigned. Dudley, who had for those five years been on the board of trustees, was named as his successor. During Dudley’s long tenure the college expanded considerably and achieved national recognition. President Dudley’s particular interest was in emphasizing the agricultural aspect of the curriculum. As an outgrowth he helped establish farmers's institute for Negroes across the state. In matters of race relations he counseled patience and nonresistance. He served as president of A. & M. until his death in 1925.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The wave is cresting

I'm fast approaching the halfway point. I had planned to be there by the end of the month, but it looks like the end of the first week of March. Even though I have more than half of the 38 individuals completed, there's still the counter images and the background to consider. There are nine faces that I need to finish before I will allow myself to say that I'm halfway and the one below is only the third. I have to go to the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte on Thursday and Friday for another session of the Innovation Institute and hope to have another 5 completed and posted by then. 

I have a steady stream of visitors coming by the studio these days. In keeping with my open door policy, they stop by to monitor the progress and tell others which leads to more visitors. I'm happy to share with them what I am working on and needless to say, I think they are more excited about seeing this finished than I am. I'm growing more and more attached to this piece and dread the day that I have to part with it. My good friend Tony Bell is a teacher at the Art Institute of Charleston and brought his entire class in on Tuesday. They were covering the topic of depth of field in photography and art and he wanted them to talk with me about ways visual artists use perspective and other techniques to create visual depth in their paintings. They were quiet at first but soon opened up and we had a great time. 

Today's image is that of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.  
Anna Julia Haywood Cooper
Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was a civil and women's rights pioneer. She was one of the earliest black women activists in the realm of higher education. She was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1858, the daughter of a slave, Hannah Stanley Haywood, and her white master, George Washington Haywood.

She showed great academic prom­ise from an early age, receiving a scholarship at age nine to attend St. Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute; in 1877 she married an instructor at the school, George Cooper. She was widowed in 1879 and never remarried. Cooper entered Oberlin in 1881, where she earned a B.A. in 1884 and an M.A. in mathematics in 1887.

She delivered her paper "The Negro Problem in America" at the Pan-African Conference in Lon­don in 1900 and was subsequently named to the Pan-African Execu­tive Committee. She did graduate work at the Sorbonne, in Paris, during 1911-12 and at Columbia in 1913-16. She received a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in 1925. Dr. Cooper taught, or served as principal, at Dunbar High School (formerly M Street High), long the only aca­demic high school for blacks in Washington, D.C., for thirty-nine years. She died in 1964, in her life spanning ante-bellum slavery to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The March Toward the Center

The halfway point is in sight. By the end of this week I will be ready to start on at least 9 faces that I will try and have completed by the end of the month. That will make 24 out of 40 participants. That should put me at the halfway point with the meat of the painting to come. The right side of the painting is more dense in it's layout but with the momentum of reaching midway, I'm looking forward to it.

Word is starting to get out and visitors are starting to come by more frequently. My open door policy on the studio grants anyone access (thanks McColl!) and I'm happy to share with them what I'm doing. Stop by if you're in the area.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Four are complete!

I'm starting to realize that my mental state is directly tied to the strength of the audiobook I'm listening to. I finally finished 'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown (a tedious rehashed plot line ala the Da Vinci Code and 'Angels and Demons'). I'm going to listen to Chuck Palahniuk's 'Fight Club' tomorrow. I love his books but never read 'Fight Club' even though the movie is fantastic. I want to see how respectful Hollywood was of the book.

Tomorrow will be long on drawing and short on painting. Time to set up another five for next week. My goal is to have everything left of David Richmond done by the end of the month. 

Trying to get to the steps by month's end.

A rare pic of me actually painting.

David Richmond and Clarence Lightner
Clarence Everett Lightner was the first popularly elected mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina and the first African American elected mayor of a metropolitan (defined as having a population of 50,000 or more) Southern city. Lightner, a Democrat, was also the first and to date only black mayor of Raleigh, serving in office from 1973 to 1975.

His mayoral election gained national attention since only 16% of registered voters in Raleigh were black, and it was unique for a white-majority city to elect a black candidate for mayor. Even more surprising to some was the fact his race was rarely mentioned in the campaign. Lightner came of age in an era when most blacks in the South were still disfranchised, was elected to the City Council two years after passage of the Voting Rights Act, and was elected mayor six years later. Lightner was a man of "dignity and perseverance", who brought people together when he entered public political life, as he had for years in his community work.
In a 1976 book on Southern politics, authors Jack Bass and Walter DeVries wrote "Perhaps no political campaign better reflected changing attitudes on race than the 1973 mayor's race in Raleigh, in which black City Councilman Clarence Lightner won support from a coalition of white suburbanites concerned about urban and suburban sprawl."
Kelly Alexander, Alex Rivera & James O'Hara
Kelly Miller Alexander was born in Charlotte, N.C. on August 18, 1915, the youngest of four sons of Zechariah and Louise B. McCullough Alexander. He attended Charlotte public schools. At Second Ward High School, Alexander played half-back on the football team and earned the nickname "Ship-wreck Kelly." After studying at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he graduated from the Renouard College of Embalming in New York City. He succeeded his father as president of Alexander Funeral Home, Inc. and Alexander Mutual Burial Association.

Like his father, Alexander became identified in community affairs early in life and selected the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as the vehicle by which he would become involved in the fledgling civil rights movement. He reactivated the dormant Charlotte Branch, NAACP, in 1940; and in 1948, he was elected president of the North Carolina State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Branches, a post he held until October, 1984. Under his leadership, the N.C. Conference became the largest state conference in the country with over 120 branches and 30,000 members. In 1950, Alexander was elected to the National NAACP Board of Directors and became a Life Member in 1954. In 1976, he was elected vice chair of the National Board. In June, 1983, Alexander became acting chair, then was elected chair in January, 1984.
Alexander twice ran unsuccessfully for the Charlotte City Council in the 1950s. In 1965, his home, along with those of his brother Fred, lawyer Julius Chambers, and activist Reginald A. Hawkins were bombed. No suspects were apprehended, nor did any group ever accept responsibility for the terrorist acts.
Kelly Alexander, Sr. died on April 2, 1985 and was buried in York Memorial Park in Charlotte.

Alex Rivera
was b
orn in 1913 during the height of the Jim Crow era. Rivera was the eldest of three children of Greensboro dentist and civil rights activist Dr. Alexander M. Rivera Sr. and his wife, Daisy Irene Dillard Rivera. Rivera grew up immersed in civil rights activism, since his father was a zealous NAACP member.

Rivera attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and worked at the Washington Tribune before he was recruited in 1939 by founder Dr. James E. Shepard to establish the first news bureau for N.C. College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University).

During World War II, Rivera departed the university to serve with the Office of Naval Intelligence from 1941 to 1945. After his military service, he joined the Norfolk Journal and Guide. In 1946, Rivera became a regional correspondent for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the country's leading black-owned newspapers with a national distribution of nearly 200,000. Based in North Carolina, he covered Virginia and the Carolinas for the Courier and the National Negro Press Association.

During his stint with the Pittsburgh Courier, Rivera became famous for his coverage of the last lynchings in South Carolina and Alabama, the legal challenges to school segregation, and the aftermath of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. His coverage of those events garnered him a Global Syndicate Award in 1955.

Rivera returned to N.C. Central University in 1974 to serve as public relations director, a position he held until his retirement in 1993. He was one of the first African-American reporters to regularly participate in North Carolina governors' press conferences.

In 1993, Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr. recognized Rivera's lifelong contributions to the state and nation by awarding him the Order of the Longleaf Pine, the highest civilian honor that can be granted in the State of North Carolina.

Rivera's passion was athletics and at NCCU, he had the opportunity to photograph some of the world's greatest men in sports, including legendary basketball coach John B. McLendon whose mentor had been the architect of basketball, Dr. James Naismith. Thanks to Rivera, images of McLendon with his players, including five-time NBA All-Star Sam Jones, have been preserved for the historical record. In 2005, NCCU honored Rivera with the naming of the Alex M. Rivera Athletic Hall of Fame located in the McLendon-McDougald gymnasium.

James Edward O’Hara was born a free person in New York City to an Irish merchant and West Indian mother. While growing up he worked as a deckhand on ships that sailed between New York and the West Indies.  When he was eighteen O’Hara settled Halifax County, North Carolina with a group of missionaries.

After the Civil War, James O’Hara taught at freedman’s schools in New Bern and Goldsboro, North Carolina. O'Hara also studied law at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Shortly after North Carolina’s 1868 Constitutional Convention which reorganized state government and authorized black male voting, O'Hara was elected to the North Carolina state legislature.  In 1871, while still in the legislature, he completed his law apprenticeship and passed the North Carolina bar exam.  In 1878 O’Hara won the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s heavily black Second Congressional District.  He lost the general election to white Democrat William Hodges Kitchin. Four years later, in 1882, O'Hara again faced Kitchin and won the election by 18,000 votes.  He was reelected in 1884.

O’Hara served on the House Committees for Pensions, Mines and Mining, and Expenditures on Public Buildings. During his first term O’Hara was the only African American in Congress.  James O'Hara was dedicated to civil rights and progress for African Americans. He was an active speaker against racial violence and introduced one of the first bills to make lynching a federal crime.  When the House considered a bill to regulate interstate commerce O’Hara introduced an amendment requiring equal accommodations for all travelers.  His amendment failed.  O’Hara also fought for the rights of women when he introduced a bill that would prohibit gender based salary discrimination in education.

O’Hara stood for reelection in 1886 but faced another black Republican, Israel B. Abbott.  O’Hara lost in the primary and returned to North Carolina after his term ended.  He practiced law with his son Raphael and published a small newspaper called the Enfield Progress. In September 1905 James Edward O'Hara died of a stroke at age 61.

CJI Legends Festival

The Charleston Jazz Initiative asked me to design a poster for their upcoming Legends Festival. The Initiative was formed by Dr. Karen Chandler, Jack McCray, Tony Bell and Quentin Baxter. Their mission is to honor and shed light on the many legendary jazz musicians with a connection to Charleston and South Carolina. You can read more about the upcoming festival and gain insight on their mission as well as see how influential South carolina has been on the jazz scene by clicking here: Charleston Jazz Initiative

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ella Baker, James Shepard, W.C. Smith

Sorry about the delay of the posts - been doing a lot of drudgery work and laying the ground work for future painting. Also went back and did some retouching and color changing. That will happen until this thing is completed. The more you do, the more you see what wasn't done. 
Ella Baker, James Edward Shepard, William C. Smith
Ella Baker
Through her decades of work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and later with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Ella Baker emerged as one of the most important women in the civil rights movement.  Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia.  After grammar school, her mother enrolled her in Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She graduated as the valedictorian of both her high school and college graduating classes.  The college valedictorian honor was all the more remarkable because she worked her way through school as a waitress and chemistry lab assistant.  Baker graduated from Shaw University with a B.A. in June 1927.

After graduation Baker moved to New York City, where she became a waitress, and community organizer involved in radical politics.  Later that year (1927) she became a journalist for the American West Indian News.  By 1930 she was named office manager of the Negro National News.

In 1930 Ella Baker and George Schuyler cofounded the Young Negroes Cooperative League (YNCL).  She was the organization’s first secretary- treasurer, and chairman of the New York Council.  In 1931, Baker became the YNCL’s national director.  Schuyler, the organization’s President, then recommended her to the NAACP. 

In 1941, Ella Baker became an assistant field secretary of the NAACP.  She also took the post of Advisor for the New York Youth Council of the NAACP.  By the late 1940s Baker, now a Field Secretary, was the NAACP’s most effective organizer as she traveled the South chartering new branches.  In 1956 she organized In Friendship, a group that raised money for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Years of work among young people both inside and outside the NAACP led to her assignment in the spring of 1960 to coordinate a conference to provide direction to the spontaneous, rapidly emerging sit-in movement that began on February 1 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  In April of 1960 Baker organized a conference at her alma mater, Shaw University, which led to the establishment of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Although she never joined SNCC, Baker arranged and coordinated sit-ins for the new civil rights organization.  Baker continued to organize students involved in political activism through the 1970s.  In recognition of her work she was awarded a doctorate of letters in May 1985 from the City College of New York.   Ella Baker died on her birthday, December 13, 1986 at the age of 83.

James Edward Shepard (1875-1947)
In 1910 James Edward Shepard founded North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham, North Carolina.  Shepard was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina along with eleven other siblings.  His father was Reverend Augustus Shepard and his mother was Harriet E. Shepard.  Shepard received his education through the North Carolina public school system.  He worked as a pharmacist for a short time after graduating from Shaw University in 1894 after receiving his Ph.G. (Graduate Pharmacist) degree. James Shepard married Annie Robison in 1895 and  the couple had two children.

In 1898 Shepard along with John Merrick established North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company in Durham.  Eventually Shepard founded Farmers and Mechanics Bank in Durham as well.

A lifelong Republican, Shepard worked briefly from 1899 to 1900 as a federal appointee of President William McKinley in the Recorder of Deeds office in Washington, D.C.  He was later an advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and supported President Herbert Hoover controversial nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge John J. Parker of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Shepard continued advising prominent Republicans until his death.  As late as 1946 he corresponded with former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

By 1910 Shepard was one of the wealthiest and most successful African American businessmen in the United States.  He believed deeply in education and lamented the relatively small number of colleges for African Americans in his state.  When he received a section of land on the edge of Durham, Shepard created the National Religious Training School.  The school served as an institution “for the colored race” and initially held classes for ministers and teachers.  Five years after it opened Shepard sold the institution to Mrs. Russell Sage, a New York philanthropist.  She in turn provided support to keep it functioning for the next decade.

In 1923 the State of North Carolina assumed control of the institution and two years later renamed it the North Carolina College for Negroes (NCCN).  Unlike North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, NCCN focused on teacher education.  Over time the college developed into a liberal arts institution.  In fact, NCCN was the first predominately African American college in the United States to receive state support for liberal arts education.  By 1940 the college had a law school and offered graduate degrees in the arts and sciences.

North Carolina College for Negroes eventually evolved into North Carolina College and in 1969 it became North Carolina Central University at Durham.

Shepard, the founder of NCCU, remained President of the institution until his death in 1947.  He was also involved in other organizations including the North Carolina Teachers Association and he served as a trustee of the all-black Lincoln Hospital in Durham.  On October 6, 1947 James Edward Shepard died in Durham from complications after suffering a stroke. 

William C. Smith

Born into slavery near Fayetteville in 1856, Smith earned a teaching certificate and learned the printing trade from northern, middle-class white missionaries in the 1870's. In 1882, he became the publisher of the Charlotte Messenger, the city's first black secular newspaper. For the next decade, Smith's Charlotte Messenger was the principal spokesman for what historian Janette Greenwood calls Charlotte's "black better class."
People like Smith believed that African Americans would only be accepted by the white community if they demonstrated their commitment to such values as good manners, self-discipline, hard work, and financial responsibility.  African Americans, he declared, must “stop smoking cigars, drinking whiskey, pleasure riding” and joining in other ungentlemanly activities. 

W. C. Smith was a member of Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, the city's oldest of that denomination. In 1886, after Smith and his fellow prohibitionists had been criticized by the pastor, 28 members, including Smith, decided to organize their own church. The new congregation adopted the name Grace Chapel and took as their motto "God, Religion and Temperance," which appears in Latin on the cornerstone of the present Gothic Revival style church building that was completed in 1902. This imposing brick edifice, which replaced an earlier frame structure, was dedicated on July 13, 1902.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Civil Rights Museum opens today!

The event that provided the creative base for my mural is being commemorated today in Greensboro, NC with the opening of The International Civil Rights Center & Museum. This article beneath the PSA was written by Sue Sturgis and posted online at 'Facing South - The Online Magazine of the Institute for Southern Studies:

A monument to courage at the Greensboro five and dime
It was 50 years ago today that Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph Alfred McNeil and David Richmond -- four freshmen at Agricultural and Technical College, a historically black school in Greensboro, N.C. -- defied Jim Crow segregation by sitting at a whites-only Woolworth lunch counter in that Southern city and asking to be served.

Refused service and abused by white customers, the students still kept coming back, joined by others, day after day. Their nonviolent act of courage was inspired by others before it and inspired others like it, bringing momentum to a movement that would transform America. Within two months, sit-ins were taking place in 54 cities in nine states. Within six months, the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro was desegregated.

Today that same building on Greensboro's Elm Street will host the grand opening of theInternational Civil Rights Center and Museum, a 30,000-foot archive, museum and teaching center devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights. The museum's opening is the culmination of an effort that began in 1993, when local Guilford County Commissioner Melvin "Skip" Alston and Greensboro City Councilman Earl Jones established the nonprofit Sit-In Movement Inc. to raise funds to keep the historic Woolworth, since closed, from being turned into a parking lot.

Over the years the project's cost grew into the tens of millions of dollars: At one point a stream was found flowing through the building's foundation, necessitating extensive work. Voters in Greensboro -- a city with a contentious racial past and present -- twice voted down bond referenda to provide public financing for the project. But the museum ultimately did find financial support from the city, as well as from North Carolina, Guilford County, the National Park Service and the Bryan Foundation.

The gala program to celebrate the museum's opening planned for this past Saturday was postponed to Feb. 13 due to heavy snow, which also resulted in the cancellation of Sunday's Celebration of Unity Service. But the museum's grand opening is scheduled to go today on as planned, with original sit-in participant McCain among the speakers. The museum's exhibits aim to help visitors who never experienced legal segregation better understand what Jim Crow looked like, and to educate the public about the movement that toppled it.