Legacies links for May 1, 2023: Black artists and news from CIC members

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Hank Willis Thomas, Then Is Now (2017). source: Maruani Mercier

Some news from CIC member colleges:

  • Maria Benevento, “A William Jewell commission says college should rename building after enslaved people who built it,” Kansas City Beacon via KCUR (April 30, 2023): LINK. “A commission created to study [CIC member] William Jewell College’s historical ties to slavery recommends renaming Jewell Hall, its oldest building, to honor the enslaved people who built it.”
  • Lauren Rangel, “Descendants of former Sherman attorney, who paved the way to desegregate schools, visits Austin College,” KXII (April 27, 2023): LINK. William J. Durham of Sherman, TX, was “[o]ne of the most influential attorneys and activists in American history.” His legacy includes the influential Supreme Court case of Sweatt v. Painter (1950), which desegregated the University of Texas law school and helped pave the way for the Brown decision 4 years later. A forum featuring two of Durham’s descendants was hosted by Austin College as part of the Legacies initiative.
  • “Talk & Tour: Documentary Screening & Walking Tour of Roanoke College’s Historic Campus,” The Roanoker (April 24, 2023): LINK. “A team of [CIC member] Roanoke College faculty and student researchers, led by College Historian Dr. Jesse Bucher, are discovering more about the history of slavery at Roanoke College and the contribution enslaved people made to its founding and early development.”

Black artists, cultural creativity, and the legacies of slavery:

  • Laura Bass Parry and Jan Gilliam, “‘I made this …’: The Works of Black American Artists and Artisans,” Incollect Magazine (April 20, 2023): LINK. This major exhibit of works from the 18th–20th centuries “represents the first time the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg have displayed a wide range of works from their heralded decorative arts and folk arts collections made exclusively by Black artists.”
  • “Then Is Now: Contemporary Black Art in America,” The Bruce: LINK. A new exhibit at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, “explores how Black artists of our time critically engage with the past and present.” The artists include Melvin Edwards, Titus Kaphar, Betye Saar, Dread Scott, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, and others. Their work explores the legacies of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary racial realities.  
  • Jas Keimig, “Quenton Baker: The Seattle artist uses poetry to illuminate how a Black past persists in the present,” Crosscut (April 25, 2023): LINK. Inspired by historian Walter Johnson’s retelling of the 1841 slave uprising on the ship Creole, poet Quenton Baker turned to “erasure poetry” to resurrect the silent Black voices in primary sources that focused on white enslavers and sailors.

Other links for the week:

  • Liz Mineo, “Dealing with legacy of slavery must include voices of descendants,” The Harvard Gazette (April 21, 2023): LINK. A panel discussion about efforts at James Madison’s Montpelier plantation to include the voices of the enslaved dead and their living descendants. The short version: you cannot tell the full story of a place like that without considering the voices of descendant communities.
  • Jenna Wortham, “The Woman Shaping a Generation of Black Thought,” The New York Times (April 26, 2023): LINK. An interview with Christina Sharpe, art critic and professor of American literature and Black Studies at York University in Toronto. “Like [Toni] Morrison, Sharpe … is intent on showing how language is like a knife: a tool or weapon depending on who is wielding it. She also understands the way terms like ‘white supremacy’ and ‘anti-Blackness’ run the risk of losing their potency as they become more familiar and commonplace.”
  • Dana Goldstein and Stephanie Saul, “The College Board Will Change Its A.P. African American Studies Course,” The New York Times (April 24, 2023): LINK. After criticism from academic experts and political pressure from both sides of the spectrum, the College Board has announced that it will review and update the controversial Advanced Placement African American studies course (especially in light of statewide restrictions on the study of race in America).