Important Black Artists

Kendra Leroux, Editor

Art is a beautiful creation that has the potential to be interpreted in many different ways. Music, painting, entertainment, and much more, are all forms of art enjoyed around the world. To be considered an artist, people must be willing to use creative skills and their imagination to produce work that can be viewed and appreciated. Influential artists of many cultures, races, and backgrounds are highlighted across history. The first sign of art started in the days of cavemen, and has continued to evolve all the way until now in 2022. During Black History Month in February, America gains an opportunity to understand black culture beyond the common knowledge of racism and slavery, and appreciate black achievements which helps inspire equality. Knowing the stories of black people involved in the many branches of  art helps others acknowledge their work, going beyond just skin color. This year, racial equality is a very important issue, so it is necessary to spotlight people who are making an impact through art, and representing the black community in a positive light.

Lubaina Himid, a British painter, focuses on cultural history and showcases social engagement to highlight the black community. She uses art as a way of activism to tear down the idea of white superiority. Her long career consists of many amazing accomplishments such as winning the Turner Prize in 2017. This award is, “the highest honor in the British art world,” and is annually presented to a British visual artist. Lubaina was the first black and oldest woman to win. Starting out as a waitress and theater designer, she blossomed into a curator and teacher at age 67. Currently, she is a professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her art is now showcased in exhibitions, museums, and online for everyone to learn from and enjoy.

Viola Davis, an American actress and producer, is extremely celebrated and renoud as, “the most nominated black actress ever.” Some of her most well known movies and TV shows are the movie King Hedley II in 2001, The Help in 2011, and How to Get Away with Murder from 2014-2020. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012 because she was the first African-American to achieve the “Triple Crown of Acting.” This means Viola won an Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award in an acting category which is an extreme honor in the industry. She also is the first Black woman to receive two best actress nominations, cementing her place in history as an extremely important woman in the entertainment industry. Currently. Viola and her husband run JuVee Productions with hopes of creating diverse and sophisticated work to promote inclusion and set the bar for quality stories and projects. She continues to make an impact in 2022, helping to promote racial equality, connection, and women empowerment.

Savion Glover, a dancer and choreographer, is known for his unique pounding tap style that keeps audiences captivated. He keeps tap alive in the modern age, making him a living legend. His talent was acknowledged when Savion earned the National Endowment for the Arts grant, allowing him to start his journey. The “Man Who Saved Tap Dancing” has won many awards in his 50 year career including Tony Award for Best Choreography, Obie Award for Special Citations, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding choreography. He has choreographed many dancers in his lifetime, ranging from himself to Broadway. He constantly is influencing young people and minorities to push through boundaries and teach creative expression through the art of dance.

Angie Thomas, an author and former rapper, has had a fulfilling career with many high points at only 33 years old. Her most famous piece of literature is The Hate U Give, which became her first New York Times Best Seller. It centers around a girl who witnessed her Black friend killed by police, bringing up important topics including activism, police brutality, and racism. On the Come Up was her second New York Times Best Seller, which was released in 2019 about a young rapper hoping to become an underground hip-hop legend like her dad, pushing the idea of fighting for your dreams no matter what. She also wrote two other books in 2021: Concrete Rose and Blackout, both promoting black stories to help readers get a glimpse into these controversial issues. Some awards Angie has won include Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and William C. Morris Award, all for outstanding achievement in literature. She is an inspiration, activist, and now even creating a book of advice to people who want to start their own writing projects.

Alicia Keys, a world renowned singer, songwriter, musician, producer, and actress, is an inspiring mother and person to many people. At 15 years old, she signed with Columbia Records, leading to her fame in 2022. Some of her most well known and listened to songs are City of Gods, If I Ain’t Got You, No One, My Boo, and Girl On Fire. With a total of 22.7 million instagram followers and 25 million monthly spotify listeners this year, she uses her platform to mix activism with art by co-founding Keep Child Alive to help HIV infected kids in Africa and India. Alicia also inspires indigenous people to fight for their rights, earning the Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award. Throughout her career, Alicia has been nominated for 790 awards and won 271 of them. The world can learn from one of the world’s best-selling music artists that equality is extremely important, and it is vital to be true to oneself. 

Morgan Freeman, an actor, director, and narrator legend, is noted for various roles in many genres and his distinctive deep voice. Morgan Freeman has worked extremely hard in well known movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven, Glory, and more. He has won many of the highest caliber acting awards including Academy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy, and Tony. He represents the black community by becoming a worldwide legend and giving back to charity. He also has plans to share some of his followers’ experiences with racism, “I’ll dedicate my platforms to amplify your voice,” taking his place in history in these times of change. 

Equality is a necessity, and these black artists are attempting to make a difference. They are inspirations, and should continue to be celebrated beyond just Black History Month. Give these amazing people your support so they can continue to create change in the future.