01: A Response to Rage
Los Angeles–born visual artist Kehinde Wiley has done it again. Known as the talent behind Barack Obama’s famed presidential portrait, he’s now given the world another image to revere. “Rumors of War,” which was unveiled in New York City’s Times Square in September, is a sculptural depiction of a kingly Black man with locs riding triumphantly on a horse.
The figure presents a stark contrast to the Confederate statues that have long been a symbol of oppression for African-Americans. This month the stately monument moves from midtown Manhattan to its permanent location in Richmond, where it will be placed near the entrance to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
02: Remembering Toni
Toni Morrison revolutionized the American literary canon, starting with her first novel, The Bluest Eye. Now months after the author’s passing, a new book draws from the Pulitzer and Nobel Peace Prize winner’s body of work. The Measure of Our Lives: A Gathering of Wisdom is a collection of quotes that explore such themes as the power of women, the sin of slavery and the art of Black people. The compilation hits stores in December.
03: All Hail The Queen
In 2018 “I Am Queen Mary” became the first public monument to a Black woman in Denmark’s history. Now a scaled replica of the striking statue, created in tribute to a nineteenthcentury rebel queen who revolted against Danish colonial rule on the island of St. Croix, has settled in New York City. In October artists La Vaughn Belle and Jeannette Ehlers, both of whom are of Caribbean ancestry, erected the regal figure at Barnard College in Manhattan.
04: Down For The Cause
New data from the Supermajority Education Fund reveals that women are increasingly taking on social issues to achieve gender equality. Three quarters of those surveyed expressed an interest in joining a “women’s equality organization.” Researchers found that women are particularly energized to fight sexual harassment, workplace discrimination and a broken health care system.
05: Creating a Curator Pipeline
Atlanta’s HBCU trifecta, better known as the Atlanta University Center, is developing the next generation of Black museum curators and art historians. During the fall semester, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University began offering students degrees in the subjects. According to a 2015 study, roughly 70 percent of the country’s museum directors identified as non-Hispanic White. The AUC hopes to change that with its program.
06: If I hadn’t become an entertainer, I would have had to make some noise in some other arena. I’ve always had an enormous need to be seen and heard.” —DIAHANN CARROLL, SINGER, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST JULY 17, 1935–OCTOBER 4, 2019
07: A Case For Gun Control
The rate at which Americans have lost their lives to gun-related injuries increased by 14 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to a team at the University of Michigan that compiled info from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess the “worsening epidemic of firearm mortality.” New York, California and Washington, D.C., all of which boast strict gun control laws, witnessed a decline in firearm deaths during the same period.
08: Breathing Solutions
Asthma-related deaths in the Black community are significantly higher when compared with that of Whites. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the cause is a lack of African-Americans’ inclusion in clinical trials addressing the condition. As a result Black adults and children required an escalated dosage of steroids more often. The study underlined the need for varied treatments and greater Black participation in clinical studies.
09: Leading The Charge
California is taking bold steps to help curb the rate of HIV infection. This fall Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to make PrEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), which can be taken daily to prevent HIV, available to Californians over the counter. Proponents of the bill say that the measure will greatly reduce the spread of the disease. According to the CDC, new HIV infections remain higher among African-Americans than any other race or ethnicity.
10: Setting Boundaries
New York City legislators are pushing for a new benchmark in police accountability. Reintroduced in September, the Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act—dubbed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act— would set a national standard that clearly defines what constitutes excessive force by cops.