Have you noticed Black artists are finally receiving the attention they deserve? On the national scene, Kehinde Wiley became a household name when the painter delivered President Barack Obama’s official portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Harvard-educated Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history when she read “The Hill We Climb” during President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Ebony Magazine dubbed Grammy-award winning Artist Jon Batiste “ambassador of Black music” after receiving 11 Grammy nominations for his work in music. He won album of the year and five of the honored trophies. The list can go on-and-on.
Here in Madison and across Wisconsin, we have our own list, too. Several members of the Black community have authored books, had paintings commissioned across the country, and buildings designed from inspirations birthed from their brilliant minds. Each is reclaiming their rightful place in the world, offering profound and inspiring explorations into themes of identity, heritage and representation.
Back in the day, the Harlem Renaissance was brimming with poets such as Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, while Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller were developing Chicago’s jazz scene. What about now? Are we witnessing the emergence of a new Black Art Renaissance?
Recently, the Urban League of Greater Madison arranged an outing for the community to travel to the American Players Theater in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The 100 tickets were not enough to meet demand, according to Dr. Ruben Anthony, the president and CEO of the Urban League. So, the Urban League bought more. “If you create a venue for Black people to see culturally sensitive entertainment, they will come, he said.
Tasia A. Jones is the director of Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which features a diverse cast. Gavin Lawrence, who plays the lead role of Walter Lee Younger, has often said APT needs to produce more than just Shakespeare. And they have.
In this issue, we introduce Black creators who have graced us with their have powerful portrayals of the struggles and triumphs of African Americans through their paintings, sculptures and other artistic means. This is a snippet of the stacks of talent in our area. A second UMOJA Creative issue is likely to come.
We want to also remind our readers that delays in receiving your favorite magazine in the mail is due to a paper shortage caused by supply chain woes. We are online. Go to UMOJAMagazine.com and read the latest issue.