Art, culture, & history to reimagine the future

Reflecting on patterns of racial injustice with Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series

Grady Powell
CEO, Openfields
IMAGE:One-Way Ticket Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series @ MOMA
"Migrants left. They did not feel safe. It was not wise to be found on the streets late at night. They were arrested on the slightest provocation."
I remember seeing Lawrence's work for the first time at The Phillips Collection on 21st St. NW in Washington, DC.

The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence depicts the story of how his family, along with hundreds of thousands of other black families, fled Jim Crow and open violence in the South in the 1920s to seek equity and opportunity in the manufacturing cities of the North. There they found a different kind of racial hatred and oppression. The three men chained together in Panel #22 reminds us that blacks "were arrested on the slightest provocation."

Black Mountain College

"Collaging is a historical practice of Black imagination. It has helped us to envision unfathomable futures in the face of violence and uncertainty. It has been a creative way to love each other even though we haven't been shown care, to express the depths of our experiences even when no one ever asked how we felt, to give evidence to all the things unseen."

Reimagining Black Futures in The Paris Review

By Sasha Bonét June 24, 2020


"Collaging is a historical practice of Black imagination...
to envision unfathomable futures in the face of violence
and uncertainty."

Openfields mission is to help leaders imagine and implement more creative and just futures.
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