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Harlem on My Mind: Jacob Lawrence

Part 1: A signed print by Jacob Lawrence sends Trymaine Lee down a rabbit hole. It begins with an exploration of how Lawrence shaped Harlem, and how Harlem shaped him.
Jacob Lawrence, 1986, Schomburg Library.Jacob Lawrence

About this episode:

This Black History Month, Into America launches Harlem on My Mind, a series that follows four figures from Harlem who defined Blackness for themselves and what it means to be Black in America today.

The story begins in December, when host Trymaine Lee acquires something he coveted for years: a numbered print titled Schomburg Library by American icon Jacob Lawrence. The print came with a handwritten dedication to a man named Abram Hill. Who was Abram Hill? How did he know Jacob Lawrence? Did their paths cross at the famed Schomburg Library?

What follows is a journey of discovery, through conversations with friends, historians and experts, to understand the interconnected lives of Black creators in and around the Harlem Renaissance. And it starts with Jacob Lawrence, a child of the Great Migration who was nurtured by the great artists and ideas of the period. Two women who knew Lawrence well, art historian Dr. Leslie King-Hammond and artist Barbara Earl Thomas, reflect on his life, death and contributions to Black culture.

Special thanks to the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Find the transcript here.

Artist Barbara Earl Thomas poses with her friend and advisor, Jacob Lawrence, and his wife, Gwendolyn Knight, in Seattle, Washington.Courtesy Barbara Earl Thomas

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