Knee Deep in the Vortex

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If you’ve known me for longer than a week you know that I’m not known for making things easy on myself.  To that end, this is a sneak peek into a project that I’m working on that may very well kill me.

I can’t wait until I have more to show you!

Harriet Tubman

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
-Harriet Tubman

1820 – 10 March 1913

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made more than thirteen missions to rescue more than 70 slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era struggled for women’s suffrage.

As a child in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten by masters to whom she was hired out. Early in her life, she suffered a severe head wound when hit by a heavy metal weight. The injury caused disabling seizures, narcoleptic attacks, headaches, and powerful visionary and dream experiences, which occurred throughout her life. A devout Christian, Tubman ascribed the visions and vivid dreams to revelations from God.

In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night, Tubman (or “Moses”, as she was called) “never lost a passenger”. Large rewards were offered for the return of many of the fugitive slaves, but no one then knew that Tubman was the one helping them. When the Southern-dominated Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, requiring law officials in free states to aid efforts to recapture slaves, she helped guide fugitives farther north into Canada, where slavery was prohibited.

When the American Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina. After the war, she retired to the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She became active in the women’s suffrage movement in New York until illness overtook her. Near the end of her life, she lived in a home for elderly African Americans that she had helped found years earlier.

Coretta Scott King

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“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that is seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity, and personhood.”
-Coretta Scott King

27 April 1927 – 30 January 2006

Coretta was an American author, activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Mrs. King played a prominent role in the years after her husband’s 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women’s Movement and the LGBT rights movement.

Coretta Scott King played an extremely important role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Martin wrote of her that, “I am indebted to my wife Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices, and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well-ordered home where Christian love is a reality.” However, Martin and Coretta did conflict over her public role in the movement. Martin wanted Coretta to focus on raising their four children, while Coretta wanted to take a more public leadership role.

Coretta Scott King took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and took an active role in advocating for civil rights legislation. Most prominently, perhaps, she worked hard to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Coretta Scott King broadened her focus to include women’s rights, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, and various other causes. As early as December 1968, she called for women to “unite and form a solid block of women power to fight the three great evils of racism, poverty and war”, during a Solidarity Day speech.

As leader of the movement, Mrs. King founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. She served as the center’s president and CEO from its inception until she passed the reins of leadership to son Dexter Scott King.

Coretta Scott King was also under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1968 until 1972. Her husband’s activities had been monitored during his lifetime. Documents obtained by a Houston, Texas television station show that the FBI worried that Coretta Scott King would “tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement.” A spokesman for the King family said that they were aware of the surveillance, but had not realized how extensive it was.

Wonder Woman!

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For various reasons I’ve had to draw Wonder Woman a number of times over the years, but I have to say, I think this may be one of my favorites.  Actually, I think this may be one of my favorite drawings anyway.  It’s nothing particularly special, but there are just a few small things that I’m really pleased with.  At any rate, I dug it out of the archives because I realized I hadn’t shared it with you good folks.

Hot August Nights

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Dude.  I totally forgot these drawings existed until I found them buried in a hard drive.  I had done a drawing on the reverse (that you can kind of see the ghost of) that a good friend showed fond interest in.  I ripped the page out of my sketchbook then and there and handed it to her.  Thankfully she was willing to scan the pages for me and send them to me… which is where I (apparently) forgot about them entirely.  Whoops.

Josephine Baker

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“A violinist has his violin, a painter his palette.  All I had was myself.  I was the instrument I must care for.”
-Josephine Baker

3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975

Josephine was an American-born dancer, singer, and actress.  Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a citizen of France in 1937.  Fluent in both English and French, Baker became an international musical and political icon.  She was given such nicknames as the “Bronze Venus”, the “Black Pearl”, and the “Creole Goddess”.

Baker was the first African-American female to star in a motion picture, Zouzou (1934), to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer.  She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and for receiving the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

After King’s assassination, his widow Coretta Scott King approached Baker in Holland to ask if she would take her husband’s place as leader of the American Civil Rights Movement.  After many days of thinking it over, Baker declined, saying her children (she had twelve children, all of which were adopted) were “too young to lose their mother.”

Rosa Parks

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This year for Black History Month I’m going to highlight a different player in the steady march towards civil rights.  These women were strong and steadfast in their belief in equality, and they still have plenty to teach us today.  Regardless of how you feel about black history being relegated to a single month, this is important American history and we’d do well to keep these lessons in mind as we continue to fight for equality.

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
-Rosa Parks

4 February 1913 – 24 October 2005

Mrs. Parks was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights”, and “the mother of the freedom movement.”  She’s most well known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama on 1 December 1955.  This act of civil defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols in the Civil Rights Movements.

After her many years of service to the cause of equality she received national recognition, including the NAACP’s 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.  Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman — and second non-U.S. government official — to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

Love

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The Gun Show is a project geared towards raising awareness of a greater need for gun safety and an even greater need to sharply decrease violence.  Artists from around the country have contributed designs for posters, which are for sale at reasonable prices.  I’m proud to say that I’ve taken part in this initiative.

You can buy my poster here.

The rest of the great posters can be found here.

Stop by.  Check them out.  And spread the word!