Tag: Black History Month

#TuesdayArtist: Jacob Lawrence

Daybreak – A Time to Rest is one in a series of panel paintings that tell the story of Harriet Tubman, the famed African American woman who freed enslaved people using a fragile network of safe houses called the Underground Railroad. This abstracted image emphasizes Tubman’s bravery in the face of constant danger. Lying on the hard ground beside a couple and their baby, she holds a rifle. Her face, pointing upward to the sky, occupies the near center of the canvas, her body surrounded by purple. Tubman’s enormous feet, grossly out of proportion, become the focal point of the work. The lines delineating her toes and muscles look like carvings in a rock, as if to emphasize the arduous journeys she has made. Reeds in the foreground frame the prone runaways. Three insects (a walking stick, a beetle, and an ant) are signs of activity at daybreak.

Jacob Lawrence is renowned for his narrative painting series that chronicles the experiences of African Americans, which he created during a career of more than six decades. Using geometric shapes and bold colors on flattened picture planes to express his emotions, he fleshed out the lives of Tubman, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and African Americans migrating north from the rural south during and after slavery. Lawrence was 12 in 1929 when his family settled in Harlem, New York, at a time when African American intellectual and artistic life was flourishing there. As a teen, he took classes at the Harlem Art Workshop and Harlem Community Art Center, where he studied works of art by African American artists and learned about African art and history. Lawrence went on to create images that are major expressions of the history and experience of African Americans.


#TuesdayArtist: Romare Bearden

The title of this collage could refer to several of its details. In the top right quadrant a nearly camouflaged passing train with billowing smoke travels to an unknown location. The central figure, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, appears lost in thought. A woman stares at the viewer with a disproportionately large eye, her hand on the windowsill. In the “background” (at right), blue birds fly. These elements and others recall Romare Bearden‘s childhood in rural North Carolina and personify journeying, a central theme in African American history. The train suggests the Underground Railroad—the network of abolitionist-run safe houses that secretly transported people escaping enslavement—and the post-slavery migration of African Americans, primarily northward, to seek better lives.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and raised primarily in the surrounding Mecklenburg County, Bearden eventually settled in New York City to finish college at New York University. He was a social worker there for several decades, during which time he spent nights and weekends on his art. Originally an abstract painter, Bearden began creating collages in the early 1960s using images from photo-magazines such as Life and Ebony. In addition to his unflinching, faceted images of black life, Bearden is remembered for his published books on art and aesthetics and for his political energy on behalf of black culture.

#MeteorologyMonday: Spencer Christian

Among the meteorologists who provide weathercasts on the broadcast networks’ popular morning news programs, Spencer Christian has set the tone as an amiable provider of the nation’s rain or shine outlook to millions of viewers. Christian, who often fills in as co-host with Joan Lunden on Good Morning America, has been described by TV Guide’s Marvin Kitman as “an intelligent, entertaining, likable fellow, not a somber bone in his body.”

Spencer Christian was born in July of 1947 to Spencer Christian Sr. and Lucy Greene Christian in Newport News, VA. He spent the late 1960s as an English major at Virginia’s Hampton College, and also served in the U.S. Army Reserves. After graduating with a minor in journalism, Christian taught school at the Stony Brook School, a private secondary institution on Long Island. However, in 1971, he moved back to Virginia to take a job at WWBT-TV in Richmond. He worked as a news reporter for one year. When the station’s weathercaster quit, Christian’s boss approached him and asked if he knew anything about meteorology. “I told him that the upper-level winds moved from east to west and steer the frontal systems. He said, That’s enough for now. We need you to fill on for a couple of weeks,” Christian recalled to Ebony writer Douglas C. Lyons. Christian wound up remaining the station’s weathercaster for three years before taking a similar job in Baltimore.

At Baltimore’s WBAL-TV, Christian honed his skills as a meteorologist. In addition to preparing and delivering weather forecasts, he also hosted a weekly half-hour talk show called Spencer’s World. His special five-part news report concerning the decline of verbal skills in America entitled “Does Anyone Here Speak English?,” which he produced and narrated, won an Emmy. His on-air successes soon brought him to the biggest market in the country-New York City. Along with his wife, Diane Chambers Christian and their two children, Spencer moved to the Big Apple in 1977 when he was offered a job at WABC-TV. After four years as a weathercaster, he switched to the sports department in 1981. He occasionally filled in as weathercaster on ABC’s highly-rated morning news program, Good Morning America.

In the summer of 1986 a greater opportunity arose for Christian when Good Morning America’s regular meteorologist left the show; Christian was offered the job and he accepted. He debuted on Good Morning America in August of 1986 and was a fixture until 1998. Currently, he works for ABC7 based out of the Bay Area.




FEBRUARY IS HERE! This is the time of year when I talk about Black history & all the contributions Africans Americans have made to America. I really think that the accomplishments of my people should be highlighted all year long, so I do my part by sharing notable African Americans history every week even after Black History Month is over. And since it is February, I will also be writing about dating, relationships and, of course, love!

Here’s what Chocolate Vent will look like this month –

  • Question of the Day: This will be on hold until March.
  • #SundaySermon: I’ll continue to post a weekly sermon & a quote of the week from an African American preacher.
  • #MeteorologyMonday: Highlighting famous African American meteorologists.
  • #TuesdayArt: Discovering African American artists from around the country!
  • Wednesday: #HumpDayLoveDay I will write a post about dating, love, relationships or all 3!
  • #TheologyThursday: Read about different African American preachers/pastoral leaders across the country.
  • #FashionFriday: Meet some African American fashion designers from the past & the present.
  • #SaturdayStamps: Notable African Americans who have their own U.S. postage stamp.

If you haven’t already, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

I hope you are able to learn something about African American culture from my posts this month. Happy reading but more importantly Happy Black History Month!

#BlackLivesMatter: Who Was Herbert “Pop” Gilbert?

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is reviewing a deputy’s fatal shooting of a 37-year-old African American man in Thomasville, Georgia, about 30 miles from Tallahassee.

A GBI press release says agents from the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics and Vice Division were executing a search warrant in the Magnolia and Fern Street area around 4:20 p.m. when Herbert “Pop” Gilbert was shot.

The incident involved police vehicles and Gilbert’s vehicle prior to the shooting.

The deputy involved has been identified as agent Josh Smith, who is white. He started at TCSO in June 2012. Sheriff Carlton Powell said the officer is on temporary administrative leave, the Thomasville Times-Enterprise reported. In a separate 2015 incident, Smith was suspended for not adhering to proper arrest procedures, the paper reported.

TCSO said it could not comment on the situation as long as it’s under active investigation.

Thomasville Mayor Greg Hobbs said the incident was “a tragic event for our community.”

Hobbs’ office and the Chief of Police issued a joint statement Wednesday.

“On behalf of the Thomasville City Council and the entire City family, we want to begin by expressing our sincere condolences to the family of the deceased,” said Mayor Hobbs. “This was a tragic event for our community.”

The latest deadly shooting of a black man by law enforcement triggered demonstrations. Holding signs that read “Justice for Herbert” and “We are Pop,” dozens of protesters marched through downtown Thomasville Wednesday and Thursday morning.  A community vigil was also held on Magnolia Street.

*Excerpts taken from Tallahassee.

#SaturdayEats: Virginia Ali

Virginia Ali and her husband Ben founded the world famous Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C. in 1958. The U Street Corridor of D.C., where Ben’s Chili Bowl is located, was known as “Black Broadway” because top performers would play sets in bars and theaters in the area, and they would usually eat and hang out at Ben’s. Such celebrities include Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bill Cosby. During the Civil Rights Movement, “The Bowl” was a hangout place for activists and even Martin Luther King, Jr. paid a couple of visits. Mrs. Ali has served on the Board of Directors for many organizations over the years including For Love of Children. She and her husband have been inducted into the D.C. Hall of Fame in 2002 for their landmark restaurant’s role in many important D.C. historical events. In 2004, Ben’s Chili Bowl received the “American Classic’s Restaurant Award” from the James Beard Foundation. On August 22, 2008, Ben’s Chili Bowl celebrated its 50th anniversary and Ben and Virginia were awarded the Key to the City by Mayor Adrian Fenty for their entrepreneurship and significant contribution to the spirit of U Street and history of Washington D.C.