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Chester County Press

Editorial: Forever genius

In the cultural diaspora of American art, perhaps the most definitive fact is that no one ethnic group can lay singular claim over a genre, but there is little doubt that in the performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of expression, the African American influence has been paramount.

“African Americans and the Arts,” the theme of this year’s Black History Month, celebrates the vital role played by some of our nation’s greatest artists who have served to inspire us, to get us off of our seats, to have the courage and conviction to illuminate once-silent narratives, and to empower communities of all ethnicities to remove themselves from the comfort zone of ignorance and learn to embrace the sometimes uncomfortable truth.

African American art is the glory-be-to-God infusion of African and Caribbean influence, thoroughly seasoned with the spices of the Black American experience. It is the movement of New Negro, the Black Arts, the Harlem Renaissance, Hip-Hop and Rap and Afrofuturism. 

It is the climax of consciousness at the moment when bondage surrenders to freedom, the collaboration of what happens when rage meets creation, when oppression meets victory and when symbolism clashes headlong with symmetry. 

It is the long march of paragraphs that stretch from Langston Hughes to James Baldwin to August Wilson to Suzan-Lori Parks.

It is the highway of blues from Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters that leads from the gospel of Miss Mahalia Jackson to the dizzying riffs of John Coltrane to the sultriness of Miles Davis and to the Electric Ladyland of Jimi Hendrix. 

It is the dance of Alvin Ailey, the turntable hip-hop of Tupac Shakur and Run DMC flying across the airwaves and the canvases of Horace Pippin and Jean-Michel Basquiat that burn in our subconscious.

It is the cinematic thunder blast of Gordon Parks and Spike Lee, the mesmerizing constraint of Sidney Poitier and the Davises: Ossie and Ruby and Viola.

It is the symphonic collaboration of the forever artists, who reside in the fist and the fondle of our American heritage and it is unconscionable to restrict the acknowledgement of their genius to the smallest month. Their work is the soul within them that resides in all of us, without timeline.

Upcoming Black History events in Chester County

The Chester County History Center presents:

Black History Month Indoor/Outdoor Tour

February 9 and 12

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

This unique, one-hour, guided tour will take visitors through the Center’s library, its galleries and, weather permitting, outside to tour the town of West Chester.

225 North High Street
West Chester, Pa. 19380

The Chester County Art Association presents:

“A Black Thread Through Time: A Personal Journey of Black Artists” in the Allinson Gallery, and “Visions in Bronze, Gypsum, and Charcoal” by Richard Blake in the Huston Gallery.

February 10 to March 2

Opening reception on Thursday, February 10 from 5-7 p.m.

100 N. Bradford Avenue, West Chester, Pa. 19380

The Kennett Underground Railroad presents: 

“African American Women Abolitionists,” a lecture by Michele Sullivan

Feb. 24

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Kennett Library

216 East State Street, Kennett Square, Pa. 19348