James F. Lawrence: Paintings show progress that is now being reversed – Opinion –

After leaving the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art, where I spent some time with Harlem Renaissance-inspired painter Jacob Lawrence’s work, I felt a deeper kinship with this iconic chronicler of the African-American experience.

No, it wasn’t because we share the same last name and Southern roots. Rather, the Harn exhibit gave me greater insight into Lawrence as a black man struggling to understand the world around him starting during the 1930s and continuing until his death in 2000.

As Lawrence put it, “Instead of words, I used paint.” Actually, he used bold, vibrant colors to tell stories of black heroes such as Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution; Frederick Douglas, a crusader for racial justice; and Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the…

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