The Arts

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Arna Wendell Bontemps

Arna Wendell Bontemp

Arna Wendell Bontemp

Arna Wendell Bontemps was an important writer in the Harlem Renaissance. He was born on October 13, 1902 in Alexandria, Louisiana. The family home is now the Arna Bontemps African American Museum and Cultural Arts Center.

From the age of three, Arna lived with his family in the Watts section of Los Angeles. His family moved to Los Angeles just three days before the San Francisco earthquake! His was a loving family. His parents always encouraged him in his education. He attended public schools and graduated in 1916 at the age of 17 from Pacific Union College [U.C.L.A.], having completed his degree in three years.  Continue reading

Elmer Simms Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell  (b. Jan. 2, 1906, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.–d. Jan. 27, 1971, White Plains, N.Y.), first black American cartoonist to publish his work in general-circulation magazines on a regular basis.

Campbell won a nationwide contest in cartooning while still attending high school. He later studied at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. He then worked as a railroad dining-car waiter, amusing himself by drawing caricatures of the passengers, one of whom liked his work and gave him a job in a commercial-art studio in St. Louis.  Continue reading

Shirley Graham

Shirley Graham DuBois and  her Husband, W.E.B. DuBois

Shirley Graham DuBois and her Husband, W.E.B. DuBois

was born November 11, 1896 in Indianapolis, Indiana on a farm which had been part of the underground railroad and had served as a stopping point for runaway slaves on their way to Canada. It belonged to her grandfather, a former slave who had been freed prior to the Civil War.

Over the years she studied at the Sorbonne, Oberlin, and attended Yale on a Rosenwald Fellowship in Creative Writing. She received both her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in music from Oberlin. After receiving her MA degree, she was appointed Head of the Fine Arts Department at Tennessee State College.  Continue reading

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones has had several very successful careers, largely leaving jazz altogether by the early ’70s to make his money out of producing pop, R&B and even rap records. His earlier years were much more significant to improvised music. He grew up in Seattle and his first important job was playing trumpet and arranging for Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra (1951-53), sitting in a trumpet section with Clifford Brown and Art Farmer.

During the 1950s he started freelancing as an arranger, writing memorable charts for sessions led by Oscar Pettiford, Brown, Farmer, Gigi Gryce, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Cannonball Adderley and Dinah Washington among others. He toured with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band (1956), started recording as a leader for ABC-Paramount in 1956 and worked in Paris (1957-58) for the Barclay label as an arranger and producer. In 1959 Jones toured Europe with his all-star big band which was originally put together to play for Harold Arlen’s show Free and Easy.  Continue reading

George Herriman

George Herriman

George Herriman

George Herriman III was born in New Orleans in 1880 to Creole parents. The family moved to Los Angeles a few years later and worked with his father as a barber and then a baker where he drove the family bread truck, but his pranksterish attitude frequently irritated his parents, and after baking a mouse into a loaf of bread his parents implored him to perform his pranks elsewhere, and relieved him of his position at the bakery.

In 1900, Herriman emigrated to New York City and in 1901, his first cartoons began to appear in Judge magazine. Shortly thereafter he landed a job at Joseph Pulitzer’s “New York World” and began creating Sunday & daily comic strips for the fledgling medium. In 1906 he left Pulitzer to do a strip for the McClure syndicate, went back to Pulitzer & finally left Pulitzer again to work for William Randolph Hearst at the “New York Journal American”. It would be here that Herriman created his most famous & popular characters, the animal residents of Coconino County, USA.  Continue reading

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