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Pamela Lee Gray

musician, activist, author, painter, and sculptor, was born Richard Pierce Havens in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of nine children. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father, Richard Havens, worked as a metal plater and dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, eventually learning to play a number of instruments. Richie's mother Mildred a bookbinder and casual singer at home encouraged her young son when he started singing background vocals at the age of twelve for local groups All kinds of music were played in the Havens home Richie s grandmother listened to Yiddish gospel and big band music his mother enjoyed country music and his father loved jazz He joined the doo wop singing group the Five Chances at age fifteen and performed the next year with the Brooklyn McCrea Gospel Singers a group that sang hymns for neighborhood churches Havens ...

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Cynthia Haveson Veloric

artist and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruby Arlene Powell, a homemaker, and Barkley H. Hendricks, a carpenter who worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Barkley L. Hendricks “didn't like school” (unpublished interview, 2005), preferring to sketch and draw in his spare time, but once he entered high school, his teachers encouraged his art studies. Another outlet for his talent was the high school yearbook, for which he was both editor and illustrator. Outside school he created chalk and pastel markings on city walls, which he later called “pre-aerosol graffiti” (unpublished interview, 2005).

After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in 1963, Hendricks enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the oldest art school in the country. At the time, there were few black students or faculty. He can easily recall fellow students Lou Sloan and Raymond Saunders ...

Article

South African novelist, playwright, poet, painter, sculptor, film producer, and academic, was born on 6 October 1948 in Sterkspruit in the Herschel District of the Eastern Cape, near the border with Lesotho. His father Ashby Peter Solomzi Mda was a schoolteacher, later an attorney, and a founder of the African National Congress Youth League and of the Pan-African Congress; his mother Rose Nompumelelo Mda was a nurse. When Mda was an infant, his parents moved with him to Orlando East and then to Dobsonville in Soweto, where his father taught school.

Mda claims that he became a juvenile delinquent and joined street gangs during his time in Soweto while his father was studying law In hopes of keeping him out of trouble his parents sent him as a teenager to live with his grandparents in Sterkspruit soon after his father joined him to establish a law practice there His father ...

Article

C. M. Winston

artist, curator, art historian, filmmaker, writer, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Howard Pindell and Mildred, both educators. By the age of eight Pindell already aspired to be an artist, and she attended Saturday drawing classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial.

Pindell graduated cum laude with a BFA from Boston University and earned an MFA from Yale University's School of Art and Architecture in 1967. She moved to New York City in 1967 after graduating from Yale and she worked primarily as a painter of nonobjective and figurative works during the early years of her career That year she landed a job at the Museum of Modern Art MoMA as an exhibition assistant in the department of national and international circulating exhibitions At MoMA she rose through the ranks from curatorial assistant to associate curator in ...

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Angela R. Sidman

painter, dancer, playwright, and set designer, was born in White City, Kentucky, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. John Robinson, a coal miner uncle with an interest in drawing and painting, encouraged young Sebree's artistic talents. “Robinson tutored Charles in drawing by having him sketch pictures with a stick in the soil and taught him how to make little figures of men out of mud and twigs” (Marshall, 3). In 1924, when Sebree was ten years old, he and his mother joined the flood of African Americans moving north in the Great Migration. They settled in Chicago, where the preadolescent Sebree soon launched himself into the city's thriving cultural scene.

An elementary school teacher jumpstarted Sebree s career when she showed his artwork to members of the University of Chicago s Renaissance Society The group was impressed enough with the fourteen year ...

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Elisabeth Harney

Senegalese artist, painter, and actor, was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Originally trained as a stenographer, Seye is self-taught as a visual artist and actor. She participated in the much heralded Premier Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres in Dakar (1966) and, at the bequest of the Senegalese minister of culture, three years later in the First Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers, where she won a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) grant to support a training residency in Ivory Coast. Her residency led to a solo exhibition in the Hôtel Ivoire (1972), participation in the widely touring state-sponsored Senegalese Art Today (which opened in Paris at the Grand Palais in 1974), and a place within the festival of arts and culture called “FESTAC” in Lagos in 1977 She has enjoyed a broad ranging patronage from public commissions for the Ethiopian offices of the Organization of African Unity and ...

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Charles Rosenberg

the fifth of the seven children of Marion and Jennie Simpson. His father was a porter for a railroad, and later read water meters for a living; there is no record of his mother working outside the home.

Simpson was kept out of school until 5th grade by repeated bouts with diphtheria and rheumatic fever. He was tutored by his sisters and brothers, and when physically able, spent a good deal of time at the Diamond Jenkins orphanage. He still had his family, but Jenkins was a center of music, particularly jazz, where many residents developing their skills turned out to be future professionals, including Cat Anderson Pinkett and Freddie Green Basie In high school he played tenor saxophone clarinet and flute Spending a good deal of time drawing cartoons and painting Simpson was taught from the age of 13 by local art gallery owner William Halsey who ...

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Albert Smith was born in New York, New York He was trained in piano and guitar at the Ethical Culture High School in New York and later studied at the National Academy of Design in Belgium where he twice won the Suyden Bronze Medal After serving in a military ...

Article

Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

abstract expressionist artist, dancer, and educator, was born in Yakima, Washington, the second of five children of Gertrude Beatrice Carson and James A. Johnson, an interior decorator and inventor.

The family moved from Yakima to Boise, Idaho, and Pendleton, Oregon, finally settling in Portland, Oregon. They were often the only black family where they lived, and were subjected to racist taunts. Streat attended Boise High then graduated from Washington High School in Portland in 1932. She attended the [Portland] Museum Art School (now Pacific Northwest College of Art or PNCA) in 1934, and the University of Oregon from 1933 to 1936, but did not get a degree. Having started painting at the age of nine, Streat won honorable mention from the Harmon Foundation (set up by the white philanthropist William E. Harmon to support black artists for a juried exhibit in New ...