The images I bring to you were inspired by John Lewis’ graphic novel series “March” (the third installment of which was just released recently accompanying its national book award), I wanted to send out some images from my new series “Over/come(ing).” This series of paintings was initially conceived in reflection about current marches and their connection to marches in the past – mostly the famous march, the march in 1965 the walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Within this work, I seek to explore the power/complexity/hopefulness of social movement (s), the most powerful of human creations, for improving the world, appropriately, I will post a part of a painting from the series each day for the month of March, which we should now think of not just as a month or as a way to mark time but also as a call to action and freedom.
Commentary for #3
I was 10 years old when I first visited the south to meet my grandmother (on my mother’s side), aunt and cousins. At the time, I was unaware of the situation of terror inflicted upon black people. Growing up in New York City, I had no encounters with the south or racism or white folks at all - actually. That ended one summer’s day when we traveled to Charleston, South Carolina.
My trip was a reward from my Aunt Anna for not telling my mother that she burnt a hole in her mattress, while mom was in the hospital. I told anyhow, but by that time the tickets were already bought. This would be my first train ride.
It started out in an interesting way as we were told in New York that we had to travel in the last three cars of the train. This didn’t sit well with me because we were initially in the first car and I was quite comfortable. We now had to walk all the way to the back of the train.
As the trip progressed and we got closer to our final destination, I didn’t understand my aunt’s nervousness. She began to tell me that Charleston was not like New York and that I had to behave a certain way. “Walk with your eyes down when you pass a white person,” she told me. Being a precocious kid I said, “What if I bump into one because
I can’t see them looking down at the ground?” No answer. “Follow what I do and don’t talk to any white people,” she continued. “Why?” I asked. “Just don’t”, she replied. And, this is how most of the trip went.
When the train reached the southern border I noticed beautiful homes with white pillars,
cows on lush pastoral fields grazing, how exciting, I thought, wondering who lives in such a beautiful setting. As the train progressed onward it was as if the sun disappeared. Now around me I saw dilapidated cabins leaning on a thread of wood. Pushing onward, sand was kicked up from black children running along the railroad track waving. I waved back. I asked my aunt, “Do those children live in those beat-up houses?” No answer. “Does grandma live in houses like that?” “No, now sit back and enjoy the ride.” I didn’t enjoy the ride, because I wanted to know why the kids lived in those cabins, and why they didn’t have any shoes on. To this day that image has never faded.