This week at our Communities of Practice for Front Line youth workers, we highlighted and discussed a number of influential African-American leaders. Here are a few of the women and men that inspired our discussion.
JULIE MEHRETU’s most expensive paintings sold for $4.6 million at Christie’s New York in 2013, and nearly $3.5 million at Christie’s London last year. | Photo by Mark Hanauer
Mehretu, who lives and works in New York, calls her abstract paintings “story maps.” Her narratives are formed via abstracted images of histories, cultures and geographies. Three years ago, she set an artist record when her 2001 painting “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation,” sold for more than $4.6 million (including fees) at Christie’s New York. At auction, her large-scale canvases have been selling north of $1 million for years, consistently ranking her among the most expensive living women artists. In April, artnet ranked her No. 7; she is No. 1 among black female artists.
Angela Davis, born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, became a master scholar who studied at the Sorbonne. She joined the U.S. Communist Party and was jailed for charges related to a prison outbreak, though ultimately cleared. Known for books like Women, Race & Class, she has worked as a professor and activist who advocates gender equity, prison reform and alliances across color lines.
Bayard Rustin spent years in the background of the shadows of the great civil rights leader of the 1960′s, despite being the man who taught, organized and led them. Of all the leaders of the civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin lived and worked in the deepest shadows, not because he was a closeted gay man, but because he wasn’t trying to hide who he was. That, combined with his former ties to the Community Party, was considered to be a liability.
What are you doing for black history month in your after school program? You can download the word file with the hidden heroes we discussed below: