African American History Month – Rosa Parks

Rosa-ParksRosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) the legendary civil rights activist would have been 100 years old this year.  While many people know of her role as catalyst of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and as an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, many people are not aware that her career as an activist started before her arrest in 1955. At least I didn’t.

Here’s an interesting interview  w/ Jeanne Theoharis, a Rosa Parks biographer conducted by Gwen Ifill on the PBS NewsHour detailing the beginnings of her life as a civil rights and community activist:

Another Thurgood Marshall Sketch

Thurgood-Marshall-drawing5.5″ x 8″ pen and markers

In the past I’ve occasionally posted some drawings for Black History Month. Since it’s that time again, I thought it might be fun to revisit some old subjects.

Back in 2010 I did a sketch of a young Thurgood Marshall  (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993), the first African American on the Supreme Court and the lawyer who argued the famous Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court.  This current sketch was drawn from a photo taken in 1967, around the time he became the court’s 96th justice.

I’ve always been fascinated by his story: the grandson of a slave, who initially went to college to study medicine and become a dentist, eventually becomes an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Check out his biography on Wikipedia.

African American History Month: Bessie Coleman

"Bessie Coleman drawing"
© 2010 Mellanie Collins

4″ x 5.5″   pen and markers

Bessie Coleman (1892 – 1926) was the first woman to earn an International Aviation License and the first African-American licensed pilot.

Born in Texas,  Bessie was the 10th of 13 children.  Unhappy with small town life in Texas, she moved to Chicago in 1915 to join her brother and make a life for herself.   She learned the beautician’s trade, but what she really wanted to do was be a flier.

Being a woman, and black, she couldn’t find anyone who would teach her fly.   On the advice of a friend she decided to go to France and learn to fly there.  She saved and raised money, learned some French, and arrived in France in 1920.   She received her aviation license in 1921.

After earning her license, Bessie made her living as an exhibition flier, occasional parachutist, and lecturer.   Unfortunately her life was cut short by a crash during a test flight in 1926.

You can get a better idea of Ms. Coleman’s struggles, achievements, and her legend by reading her bio on BessieColeman.com.