We need to be made aware of Dr. Samella Lewis’ accomplishments as an institution builder for a better understanding of how to create generational progress in our communities. If you are at all interested in African American art, you need to know who she is. Although she is an artist in her own right, she sacrificed her career as an artist to educate other people about African- American art. Her prominent role for much of her life was that of an institution builder. She has started galleries and a museum, wrote books and established an art magazine.
Dr. Lewis has seen this world change drastically, and she has played a pivotal role in its progress. While African Americans in contemporary times have a tremendous voice, in that we can let the world know where we stand on issues, Dr. Lewis, came of age in the Jim Crow South, a time when speaking up could result in dire situations. But she made her voice heard despite potential negative consequences.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 27, 1923, Lewis came of age in the era of Jim Crow, a system she would later be reprimanded for fighting to abolish. In an interview with Baila EMS Films, she claims to have been run out of many places including Florida by its Governor due to her fight for desegregation.
Society was not just or fair, but she defied the odds, eventually earning the title of the Godmother of African-American Art.
She recently passed away yesterday, May 27th, at 99 years old, peacefully in her sleep. In true New Orleans fashion and culture, she deserves flowers, music, dance, and praise. May we remember Dr. Lewis as one of the finest champions for Black Art and Culture.
Learn more about her life and legacy in our 2018 article, Dr. Samella Lewis: The Godmother of African American Art, by Shantay Robinson, here.
SOURCE- Black Art In America