Celebrating Black History Month: African Americans and the Arts


To celebrate this year’s Black History Month theme of African Americans and the Arts, Michelle Davis, MS, LPC, Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice (JEDI) at the Kempe Center, chooses to spotlight Brian Washington’s “They Were Very Poor, But Loved” as a representation of resistance art, telling the stories of children and families.

““They Were Very Poor, But Loved,” depicts a father figure with exaggerated hands that are symbolically big enough to provide for and protect his family. The young men stand out in the front, learning from their father. The daughter, her father’s jewel, stands off to the side and in a guarded posture — a position emphasizing a father’s love for her that is undeniable. The mother gazes upon the family protectively from the house, dressed in her apron. The house, held together with sweat, love and a few boards — is home to this family and no doubt dreams of a better life for their kids are buried in a bible inside.”brianwashington.com

“Brian Washington is a world-class self-taught artist, in addition to being an award-winning attorney, arts advocate, and intellectual. While the specific subject matter of his work may vary, the over-riding theme of Washington’s work has been the struggle for equality and racial reconciliation in American society.

The Continual Struggle is artist Brian Washington’s ongoing body of artwork documenting the Civil Rights Movement and America’s historical struggle against segregation and other forms of race-based disenfranchisement. The Continual Struggle employs visual art as a means of storytelling, vividly recalling a time when people were willing to go into the streets to protest injustice and inequality.”

View and purchase “They Were Very Poor, But Loved” and other Brian Washington works on www.brianwashington.com

This Black History Month, The Kempe Foundation and The Kempe Center will be collaborating on a series of content pieces celebrating Black art, artists, and resistance. We’ll be discussing art that can be shared with children and amongst families, the importance of positive art resistance for children, and pieces that allow Black artists to share stories about their childhood and families.

Stay tuned to our socials, websites, and this blog for more!