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Cynthia Hawkins

ceramist, sculptor, filmmaker, and cofounder (with her husband, James Hatch) of the Hatch‐Billops Collection, an archive of African American cultural history, was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lucius Billops, a cook and merchant seaman, and Alma Gilmore, a dressmaker, maid, and aircraft assembly worker. Billops graduated from Catholic Girls High School in 1952, and in 1954 she began her studies at the University of Southern California. She majored in occupational therapy, which included drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. She transferred to Los Angeles State College in 1956 after she became pregnant, and then she changed her major to special education. Billops worked during the day as a bank bookkeeper and maintained a full academic workload in the evening. At the end of 1956 her daughter, Christa, was born, and Billops put her up for adoption. This was an experience she would explore in her 1992 ...


Born in Lafayette, Alabama, Sister Gertrude Morgan became an evangelist and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1939. She took the title “Sister” in the 1950s when, with two other street missionaries, she founded a church and an orphanage.

Morgan began painting in 1956, concentrating primarily on religious visions and biblical scenes. She believed that she was mystically married to Jesus Christ which she symbolized by dressing entirely in white Her paintings frequently depicted her with Jesus as bride and groom often with herself in black before and in white after the marriage As a street preacher Morgan eschewed the formal art world preferring to make folk art with any material at hand including Styrofoam cardboard lamp shades and jelly jars Her work frequently includes calligraphy which communicates a spiritual message or a biblical verse All her inspiration she felt came from God saying He moves ...


was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dorothy Ester Akiman and Julian D. Rainey. Her father was assistant corporation counsel for the City of Boston, Democratic campaign manager for the black vote on the presidential campaigns of Alfred E. Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and special attorney in the office of the US attorney general.

When Pat Rainey was six years old, her mother died. Her father married Gwendolyn Peterson a year later, and they had one child together, Sheila Emily Rainey, born 23 September 1934. Pat attended Jamaica Plain High School and, subsequently, Boston University and Northeastern University, but dropped out and found work singing with the Dean Earl Quartet at Club Eddie’s—a popular jazz spot on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston’s South End.

One day in 1947 after her father had accused her of smoking marijuana Rainey ran away to New York City There her stunning ...