african collection

Portrait of soprano Leontyne Price in Mozart’s opera, “Don Giovanni.” Printed on front: “Fayer, Wien.” Stamped on back: “Photo, Fayer, Wien I, Opernring 6. Handwritten on back: "Salzburg, 1960. Don Giovanni.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Thursday, July 27, 12:30-1:30 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Radical and Rare: Building a Collection of the Left with Brad Duncan

A black businessman in white Mississippi

Robert K. Wier (1886-1974) kept track of his membership dues in this copy of the constitution and bylaws of the Journeymen Barbers’ International Union. Wier’s barbershop was the first African American-owned business on Main Street in Starkville, Mississippi (home of Mississippi State).

This undated photograph shows Wier’s barbershop in Starkville.

In 1977, Wier’s wife, educator and community leader Sadye Hunter Wier, worked with historian John Marszalek to publish A Black Businessman in White Mississippi, a book about her husband’s life.

Heroes of Emancipation

In celebration of Juneteenth, here are some striking illustrations by James I. DeLoache for Negro Heroes of Emancipation, a book researched and written by Mildred Bond and published by the NAACP as part of its celebration for the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Sojourner Truth

Richard Allen

Frederick Douglass

African-American soldiers in the Civil War

“This has been a labor of love for Mr. DeLoache, who has had as a lifelong interest the visual depiction of the Negro’s struggle for identity and achievement.”

View of soprano Leontyne Price in Puccini’s opera, “Tosca.” Stamped on back: “NBC photo.” Handwritten on back: “Miss Price in Act II.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

“The Inner City Blues Collection”

This collection is a work in progress. I’ve wanted to do a collection like this for some time. I figured, it’s about time to stop wanting to do it and just do it. So here are the first 3 pieces of the collection.

This collection will focus on the emotion of America’s Inner Cities, her inhabitants, the people who have roots there, and the people who’ve moved on from it. We live in a volatile time where savagery is running rampant, where there are those who demonize, kill, and in every way dehumanize those who don’t look like them. It is now to the point where the law is endorsing this savagery, and the blood of the inner city is flowing from the sidewalks to the gutters.

This collection is a reminder that people are not targets. Intellect, emotion, spirituality, experience, brilliance and beauty color every aspect of these people. So, with these thoughts in my mind, I create this collection for you.

If you own a venue or gallery, or know of a venue or gallery that would like to host/exhibit this collection, contact me at and we can make arrangements. I don’t care what city or state.

Remember to support your friendly neighborhood artists.


A free man of colour

This certificate issued by the Adams County, Mississippi, Board of Police recognizes the free status of a man named Joe Cornish, and it gives him permission to remain in the state.

Joe Cornish, a free man of colour, of yellow complexion, aged about fifty five years, and five feet ten inches in height, having satisfied the Board that he was of good character and honest deportment, it was therefore ordered by the board that he be licensed to remain in this State according to the act of the Legislature in this behalf.

(Todd Herring Collection)

Is there a work of art that evokes memories from a specific time in your life? Artist Mathew Cerletty’s admiration for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Hollywood Africans began with a poster in his college dorm room. Watch more on Whitney Stories.


Gonçalo Mabunda (b. Maputo 1975) is interested in the collective memory of his country, Mozambique, which has only recently emerged from a long and terrible civil war. He works with arms recovered in 1992 at the end of the sixteen-year conflict that divided the region.

In his sculpture, he gives anthropomorphic forms to AK47s, rocket launchers, pistols and other objects of destruction. While the masks could be said to draw on a local history of traditional African art, Mabunda’s work takes on a striking Modernist edge akin to imagery by Braque and Picasso. The deactivated weapons of war carry strong political connotations, yet the beautiful objects he creates also convey a positive reflection on the transformative power of art and the resilience and creativity of African civilian societies.

“If we destroy the weapons, the same weapon’s not going to kill anymore.” He says his art is “trying to represent each [person] who died with this same material.”