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A second attempt to grow borage. Nestled next to the tomato plants. Let’s see if it improves the flavor of the fruits.

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I should wait until Monday April 3rd to reblog this … that’s apparently National Find a Rainbow Day … but given the craziness of life I might forget so I’ll reblog now. Enjoy … and mindboggling to me that I wrote this ten years ago! 🙂

Words + Images

I’m no illustrator but I do enjoying pressing colored pens to paper, and the weather this weekend provided a good excuse.  You see, after a heavy rainfall late Friday, the sun came back out.  There was that magical moment of rose red clouds appearing.  I stood at one window watching the clouds form, but then by chance, I glanced over my shoulder through another window.  A double rainbow graced the sky. Later I tried to explain to that science guy of mine the beauty that I’d seen of rose clouds in front of me and being surprised by the rainbows behind me.  His response?  “Of course.  Your shadow points toward the rainbow.”  Hunh?!

I grilled him all weekend  and finally he was able to break it down to me in a way that I understood though it helped me to draw it out, too.

“If you’re looking at rosy colored…

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There is no description of Winter but somehow I assume Winter is female. She was likely from Angola or possibly Gambia. Many of the enslaved to South Carolina at this time were from those regions. The same is likely true for King, Dido, Bell, Judge, Coaster, York and the nine other individuals along with Winter who were bequeathed to Mary Cochran Smith by her husband James Smith of Charleston, South Carolina. If they were bought from a single “parcel” that is unclear. If they were named by the Smiths or by the captors who first enslaved them is unclear.

There is only so much one can glean from the newspaper advertisements.

Carpenter, Ajax, Hercules, Thunder, Drummer, Soldier and Sailor who together ran away from Royal Governor Boone were new to the Carolina colony, unable to speak English, but based on their names had some inherent skills.

Uriah Edwards placed ads for two months in The South Carolina Gazette seeking the return of his “new Negro girl named Juno about 14 or 15 years of age.” Did he reclaim his property after that time or did he simply stop placing advertisements?

Phebe was a thin spare woman when she ran away from Joseph Wragg. She’d lived in Charles Town aka Charleston since she was sixteen years old because the advertisement stated that she was 36 years old and was well known around town as a washer woman for the past twenty years.

Virtue ran away from Titus Bateman along with a two-year old child. I wonder the name the of the child.

Edward Morris threatened prosecution of anyone harboring his Negro boy Shadwell.

Peter Roberts sought the return of his Eboe man named Primus. And further along the page of the same 1735 newspaper, Joseph Wragg and Company, the trading enterprise of Joseph Wragg and his brother Samuel, advertised “To be sold on Wednesday the 2nd day of July next … a choice parcel of slaves, imported in the ship Dove, Richard Fothergill Commander, directly from Angola.” And if you switch to the Slave Voyages Database you can see that the Dove commanded by Fothergill boarded 290 enslaved Africans of whom 248 survived for sale in Charleston.

When did these 248 people receive their new names?

The South-Carolina Gazette a few months later reported held in jail awaiting return to their enslavers two men both named Primus, a boy named Cesar and an Ebo girl who could not speak English and therefore had no known name. And in that same paper an ad reads “to be sold on the 24th of September a parcel of choice Negroes imported in the Happy Couple … Hill Master directly from the coast of Guiney by Jos. Wragg and Co.” The database shows that ship commanded by Captain Hill disembarked 141 souls.

London merchants Joseph and Samuel Wragg were the largest slave traders in Charleston during the early 1700s. They sat on various Royal councils. They did so well in promoting emigration to the new colony that they and later some of their descendants were granted tens of thousands of acres of land. During the 1730s 20,000 slaves were imported to Charleston, SC, most from Angola and more than a third brought in by Joseph Wragg and Company.

As recorded in transcribed Great Britain Colonial Records, in a report for the King of England about the numbers of enslaved Africans imported to the Carolina Colony at Charleston between May 30, 1721 to September 29, 1726, in July the ship Ruby docked with 112 people on board. Of that number Joseph Wragg received 24 men and women and 3 boys and girls. In September the ship Cape Coast disembarked 126 with Wragg receiving 112 men and women and 3 boys and girls. Other local trading houses received the rest. The South Carolina Gazette was started in 1732 I believe so I can find no newspaper advertisements about how these men, women and children were sold.

Or what names were thrust upon them.

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Participating in the exhibit Inspiring Change for the Climate Crisis (https://www.unboundvisualarts.org/inspiring-change-for-the-climate-crisis/) has been a great experience. It has been especially wonderful to reconnect with artists like Cedric Harper who I was lucky enough to profile a few years ago. Enjoy.

Words + Images

Visit the website of artist Cedric Harper. Scroll through the sculpture page. Be patient. There you will find The Book of Truth.

As described on the site, it is a ceramic sculpture with a tile base. Inside a large black box is a small black box with a white book. Next to the book is a line of small white trees glistening against a dark red sky. Stark. Beautiful. Visually compelling. Mysterious. What truths reside in that book? During a recent conversation, Cedric would not only tell me about the book but how life, especially its challenges, had shaped his unique artistic expression that combines, as he describes, language, symbols and dreams.

photo courtesy of the artist

I first met Cedric at the Riverside Gallery at the Cambridge Community Center.  We were exhibiting in the same show.  I would later tell him that he reminded me of my…

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ah, winter

snow drift against the back door

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change happens

What is there to say on this day except keep finding hope and taking action.

Words + Images


I photographed this tree today. It stands in an adjacent property that has been purchased for development. Given the type of development taking place around me and across Boston, I don’t think the tree is part of the developer’s plan. Its roots may be strong but the tree will be cut down and those roots dug up. Change happens.

DSCN9552Near the tree there is a wild tangle of forsythia branches. For years I’ve watched the brown turn to green and then gold when it fully flowers. A bright sign of spring. I’ve always wanted to sneak onto the property, cut some branches and place them in a vase, like bringing the sunshine indoors. I think they will have the opportunity to bloom one more time before they too are dug up and tossed away. Part of the change.


I think a lot about change and how change happens. I’m not…

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Rescued these from garden before the storm comes Sunday.

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Hope you enjoy this reblog from 2017 about African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner. FYI, in 2020, Hyperallergic.com shared a story noting rare film footage of the artist. https://hyperallergic.com/590970/henry-ossawa-tanner-rare-footage/

Words + Images

Editorial note: This post was written in part in response to the current Presidential administration’s recent remarks this Black History Month, and its seeming lack of knowledge regarding black history in this country. It is also written to share in brief the life and work of an artist whose work I have always admired.

henry_ossawa_tanner Henry Ossawa Tanner 1859-1937

Henry Ossawa Tanner was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1859 and grew up in Philadelphia. Tanner’s father, who happened to be a friend of Frederick Douglass, was a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal church. Tanner’s mother, who had escaped slavery in Virginia via the Underground Railroad, taught private school in the home. Both staunch believers in education, they made sure their son, the eldest in a large family, was well-educated and prepared for a successful career in a conventional job.

tanner-family The Tanner Family

Tanner had a slightly alternative idea. He too wanted to be successful and

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I tend to think of Emmett Jay Scott as one of those individuals upon whose shoulders giants stand. Though today he is largely unknown, during his lifetime he was a noted author, educator, activist and entrepreneur. For eighteen years he served as personal secretary to Booker T. Washington. He was Washington’s closest adviser, publicist and his friend. I knew of Emmett J. Scott because of previous research into Washington’s life and visually Scott was almost always at his side. Like Frederick Douglass, Washington was a figure well-photographed in his day. I accepted his presence but it wasn’t until  I chanced upon the book, Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War (1919), that I decided to learn more.


The title page states that it is a complete and authentic narration, from official sources, of the participation of American soldiers of the Negro race in the World War for democracy…

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Richard Lonsdale Brown, Class of 1910 Richard Lonsdale Brown 1910

In January, I posted the story of an African American artist named Richard Lonsdale Brown (1892-1917). Recently I came across new information that inspired me to revisit his life.  Raised in West Virginia, he traveled to New York City where his talent was recognized. He was featured in the New York Times.  As was often the case for young fine artists, supporters hoped he’d continue his artistic studies in Paris. The trip would never take place. Brown died at the age of 26. Few of his watercolor or oil paintings survive today but he may have left an unexpected legacy in the impact he made upon W. E. B. Du Bois.

W. E. B. Du Bois W. E. B. Du Bois 1868-1963

The two men would meet shortly after Brown graduated from West Virginia Collegiate Institute, earlier known as the West Virginia Colored Institute. There “In connection with his academic…

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