This summer has been dominated by news from the Rio Olympics (where African Americans scored in the medal department) and the 100th Birthday of the National Park Service (where African Americans and other minorities are in short supply, but there is hope).
The artistic life of Alma Thomas was celebrated in an exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Ms. Thomas (1891-1978) was a teacher and modernist/abstract artist, the first to graduate in fine arts from Howard University in 1924. Two of her paintings have hung in the Obama White House.
Another artist of note was in the news lately. The poet, playwright, and award-winning children's author Joyce Carol Thomas passed away August 13, 2016. Her first book, Marked by Fire (1982) was a National Book Award fiction winner in 1983. Ms. Thomas was born in rural Oklahoma and moved to California when she was 10. Her books dealt with rural black life because she felt that so few African American children had an appreciation for the richness and complexities of the stories from these black communities.
"Birding while Black". That is the mantra of Joey Manson, Director of the Audubon Center at Seward Park in Seattle, Washington. His goal is to get more families of color into the great outdoors and figures the best way to do that is to involve the children and engage the parents with their enthusiasm. In a radio interview,
Mr. Manson discusses the need to expand love of and appreciation for
wildlife and environmental concerns, as well as to increase the diversity of people
and political opinions in conservation. If
more people of color do not take up the mantle of concern and care, he
fears for the future of conservation because up until now, that has
primarily been the concern of older white people and they will be an increasing minority in this country's future.
The young entrepreneur Niki Okuk has been making waves in the business world on three fronts: black female business owner, green/recycling business, employing people with prior criminal convictions. Ms. Okuk's company, Rco² Tires keeps used tires out of dumps and landfills and recycles them into a variety of useful industrial products. The company is located in Compton, California, where Ms. Okuk grew up. She returned after getting degrees from Columbia and MIT and began the company in 2012 and now has 16 employees.
|Thomas' The Splashdown of Apollo 13, 1970|
|Middle schoolers at Seward Park|
|Niki Okuk of Rco²|