Reflections on the Struggle: Rev. Al Sharpton

Baptist Minister and political, civil rights, and social justice activist Reverend Al Sharpton (@real_sharpton) reflects on Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series. Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle is on view through September 19, 2021.

Jacob Lawrence, Panel 10, We crossed the River at McKonkey’s Ferry 9 miles above Trenton . . . the night was excessively severe . . . which the men bore without the least murmur . . .—Tench Tilghman, 27 December 1776, 1954, Egg tempera on hardboard, 11 13/16 x 15 15/16 x 1/8 in., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2003.414, from Struggle: From the History of the American People, 1954–56 © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Artists possess the unique ability to express profound ideas and emotions through vivid works that can be absorbed by anyone willing to see, hear, feel and learn. For renowned African American painter and creative mind Jacob Lawrence, that work touched on social and political issues, human rights, and freedom. Now for the first time in more than 50 years, his 30-panel series Struggle: From The History of The American People is on display including missing pieces which only recently resurfaced.

Lawrence created the groundbreaking series at a time when historic moments in the struggle for civil rights, such as the Brown vs. Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court ruling calling for the desegregation of public schools, were taking place. It is essential viewing for anyone who wants to obtain an understanding of both the Black experience in America and of our collective history as a nation. His work embodies all of the passion, pain, losses, victories, and hope of that era, and continues to resonate today with our current gains and remaining challenges. Or as I often say, the struggle continues.

—Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder & President, National Action Network, and host of Politics Nation on MSNBC

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