Langston Hughes fans check it out! A documentary is on the horizon. Click through to the original article below. And for a fun, fictionalized sneak peek into the life of Langston based on real historical events, be sure to check out Renaissance: The Nora White Story book one, now just 99cents on Amazon.
Welcome back to Black History Fun Facts where I am still not finished with my original article (lol), but I got you covered.
Now, we are familiar with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and many of the writers and musicians of The Harlem Renaissance Movement. What we are not always familiar with are the painters, photographers, and sculptors. That is why when I find someone great, I like to highlight them.
Before we go on, take a moment and dig into your purse, wallet or coin jar (or coin purse….I know some of ya’ll still have them!) Wherever you keep your change, pick out a dime.
In the 1920s, Selma Burke became one of the African American women of the Harlem Renaissance through her relationship with the writer Claude McKay. The two shared a Manhattan apartment but McKay was mean, destroying her work when he didn’t like it, and the relationship was a strange one. Nonetheless, it was through Claude that Burke got introduced to the Harlem community. She studied under another black woman sculptor of the movement, Augusta Savage.
An educator, Burke later taught at the Harlem Community Art Center and founded the Selma Burke Art School in New York City and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh. (This makes her one of my heroes since I do want to start my own school one day.) Burke is most famous for her 1944 sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was the model for his image on the dime, though she never received credit for it. Only now are people starting to recognize that she was the inspiration behind the image.
Burke’s sculpting of the image came about as part of a contest, where she wrote the White House stating that she could not sculpt the image from a photo alone. The White House responded and granted her a sitting with the president. The credit for the plaque was given to U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Sinnock but it was Burke who created the original design. Burke also sculpted Booker T. Washington and later, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Burke made sculpture by shaping white clay from her parents’ farm as a child. After being educated at what is now Winston-Salem State University and trained as a nurse at St. Agnes Hospital Nursing School in Raleigh, Burke moved to New York City to work as a private nurse.
“Selma Burke was born on December 31, 1900, in Mooresville, North Carolina, the seventh of 10 children of Neil and Mary Colfield Burke. Her father was an AME Church Minister who worked on the railroads for additional income. As a child, she attended a one-room segregated schoolhouse and often played with the riverbed clay found near her home. She would later describe the feeling of squeezing the clay through her fingers as the first encounter with sculpture, saying “It was there in 1907 that I discovered me.” – Wikipedia
After completing a Masters of Fine Arts at Columbia University in 1941, Burke began to teach art, first at the Harlem Community Art Center and later at schools she founded in New York and Pittsburgh.
Burke’s last monumental work, a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Marshall Park in Charlotte, was completed in 1980. Selma Burke died in 1995 in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
“Alright, girl, here’s another one. This here from Caroline down the road”, said Pearl.
Molly rolled her eyes, “Alright, put it on the table.”
“Whew, child. You mind if I oblige myself to this here sofa? All this running around, can’t be healthy.” Pearl heaved in and out as she sat down, lighting a cigarette. She closed her eyes, savoring the nicotine in her throat before releasing it into the air.
Molly chuckled, “Did you just say running can’t be healthy?”
Pearl cut her eyes at Molly, smiled, and answered by taking another long pull from the cigarette. Pearl was a big girl, and proud of it. She had a plump backside, wide hips, thick legs, and big breasts. So is the make-up of all the Tate’s.
“Girl, you know I can’t be losing no weight. Charles will have a fit. Have me walking around here looking all sick like y’all skinny heifers,” said Pearl as Molly laughed.
“I’m serious. Shoot, the bigger the berry, the sweeter the juice.”
“No you didn’t!” laughed Molly. Pearl joined in. She cracked herself up.
Molly glanced over the table, almost completely covered with German Chocolate cake, sweet potato pies, greens, macaroni and cheese, yams, baked beans; you name it, it was here.
“She’s not dead, you know,” Molly spoke from nowhere.
“All of this support. It’s like everyone’s acting like this is some kinda repass. Like my daughter is dead or something.”
Pearl let the cigarette die out in the ashtray. Whatever kinda buzz she had, Molly just blew it.
“They just tryna be supportive is all. You know how country folk are. Your child is their child. The men folk are out looking and the women folk are at home cooking. That’s how it is.”
“They will find her.”
Pearl shrugged, “Humph, I know they will. Got the dogs, NAACP and everything else. They better find her.”
“I mean alive. They’re going to find her alive. I can feel her, Pearl.” Molly thought about the last time she saw her very own mother that night on the porch, cold and tired. She wondered for a moment if that’s how Nora felt right now: alone, cold, and tired. Molly wanted to feed her. To give her all this food that was made for her.
Pearl sat back on the sofa, Here we go again. She wasn’t entirely honest with Molly, but everyone wore the same consensus on their hearts. There was a strong possibility they were not going to find Nora alive. No one wanted to give her credit because she talked too much. Miss Irene talked entirely too much and spoke with an unfiltered tongue, but what she said was true. Children in 1922 Mississippi didn’t just run away.
First, no one would let them. Besides their parents, there were just too many eyes watching, which is what makes it hard to believe no one saw anything. This was the South and you had not one parent or two, you had forty, fifty, and sixty. The whole colored community. People looked out for each other and someone, somewhere was always watching.
Still, she didn’t know how to break the news to her friend that she should prepare her heart for the unthinkable. Besides, she had her Marie to think about and she didn’t know what she’d do if something happened to her. If there was one thing her parents taught her, it was putting yourself in other people’s shoes. “That the onliest way to sympathize wit ‘em,” her father would say. “You gotta be able to feel where they been, where they walked, and then you can help ‘em ‘cause you knows. You knows in your heart what they been through and where they is.”
“She gone be alright, Molly. She gone be alright.”
Pearl lit her cigarette again, leaned back on the sofa, looked at the table, and prayed her words were true
Grab your copy of Renaissance today. Part two is on its way!
After letting Revelation: The Nora White Story Book Two, sit for about two months, I am right back into revisions and getting excited all over again. As such, I decided to give those of you who have not read Book One an opportunity to do so.
Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is now available for just 99cents in eBook on Amazon from now through Friday, December 29, 2017. Also, be sure to leave me an honest review if you feel so obliged after this short read. Reviews greatly help readers to understand what to expect from these books and are a great source of feedback for Indie Authors. As always, your support is golden.
“The writing is of a very high quality, evoking period and place so well that I was transported to the Jazz Clubs and writers’ circles of nineteen twenties New York and to the equally hot and humid atmosphere of the Mississippi Delta.”
– Frank Parker
Check out James Fant’s review of Renaissance. Thanks James for taking the time to leave a review. Glad you enjoyed the read.
I am mobile and will be over the next few days so I’ll be sharing Guest Posts this way because I cannot reblog.
Be sure to stop by Sarah’s blog for my latest interview on Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)
Special thanks to Sarah for having me.
CLICK THROUGH TO THE ORIGINAL LINK BELOW:
Thanks so much for the love.
Readers, don’t forget to pick up your copy for just 99cents in eBook from now through Wed., 8/23 on Amazon.
Ever read a book that you could completely or almost completely relate to?
Made you feel like it was made specifically for you, right? This book did that for the first time in my life and I’m grateful and happy that I had the chance to read it.
Saying this is a must buy isn’t a stretch – it’s not just cause I can relate to it. It’s the knowledge you gain instead.
*No way you can’t know him*
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