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As part of an ongoing journey to learn more about Seattle’s black community and their ongoing story, I visited the city’s Northwest African American Museum (NAAMNW) in March 2020. The museum’s permanent collection casts a spotlight on black migration within the United States, and the contributions by blacks to the nation and to the American Pacific Northwest. Also timely was the simultaneous visit of the NHL’s Black Hockey History mobile museum as part of their 14-city tour throughout North America.
I was especially moved by the museum’s special exhibition “Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I A Woman“, by Hiawatha D, an artist based in Seattle. His work and paintings highlight his story as a black man and black artist in America. His series of paintings “Iconic Black Women” shines a positive light on black women throughout past and contemporary American history: the important places they’ve occupied, and the important contributions they’ve made to human rights, music, literature, and sport. On sight of the paintings, the context, clothing, and body language may be immediately familiar. But many of the people painted don’t have faces, which allows viewers, especially young women, to see themselves in these figures, sparking and strengthening a connection between viewer and iconic black women.
I would love to see another name added to this list of iconic black women: Viola Desmond.
Iconic Black Women
The following YouTube video is by Veronica Very Davis:
I made all images above on 7 Mar 2020 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime. Thanks to LaNesha DeBardelaben from the Northwest African American Museum for their support. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-hUF.
I would love to see added to this list of iconic black women the Canadian Viola Desmond, who was a successful black businesswoman in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1946, Viola Desmond was jailed, convicted, and fined for refusing to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre. She fought unsuccessfully to have the conviction overturned. In 2010, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Mayann Francis (1st black person to serve in that post), posthumously pardoned Viola Desmond, removing her conviction from the historical record. In honour of her struggle, the Canadian Mint put Viola Desmond onto the face of Canada’s 10-dollar bill since 2018; she is the first black person and first Canadian woman to appear on Canadian currency in active circulation.
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