Special One- Black is Beautiful 9

Man, rest in peace to "Special One" aka Karryl Smith from the Conscious Daughters. The first time I hear the daughters I was like "I'm getting that tape" and I still have some TCD vinyl. Her style was rough, feminine, and masculine and she just had flow, timing, and cadence that its hard to find now days in the Bay. You could tell they took the time with their craft. Special One and her partner CMG were an incredible duo, classic Bay Area hip hop group who sold plenty records, toured extensively, and still have a loyal fan base. Shout out to CMG who I believe is still making music! And shout out to Paris of Guerilla Funk. Just wanted to pay my respects to this Bay legend who is dearly missed. "How we roll" is one of my favorites that I heard on a compilation and of course "Fonky Expedition" and "We roll deep".

Janet Bragg- Black is Beautiful 8

I first read a blurb about Janet in a book called "Black Wings" by Born in Georgia in 1907, Janet Bragg was a pilot who was the first African American woman to get her aviation license in the U.S. After taking flying courses at several white schools which denied her a license because of her race . Determined, she worked hard and attended an aviation school for black folks, but found she would be discriminated there because she was a woman. Un-phased, she donated her own money to buy the school's first airplane, helped the school build a proper runway, and got her private pilot's license. After trying to get her license again at other school's she finally received her aviation license in 1943.
She was a Spelman alumni and I was struck by her story and that of so many Black women who flew planes and continue to fly today. She gave a very short interview for the Smithsonian in the early 90s.

Marsha P. Johnson -Black is Beautiful 7

A couple of years ago I saw a documentary about Marsha called "Pay it no mind". I have always grown up around queer, gender fluid, gay, or bisexual adults and kids but I was surprised I'd not heard of Marsha until I was a parent myself. I hope you look her up and see what she did. She was out and proud at a time when there were no pride parades, no marches of support, and certainly few "out" people in popular media. Like so many queer or trans youth she had to leave her home. From what I hear it is because of death threats, disownment, teasing, ignorance, or just lack of understanding and support. Marsha moved to NYC . She was fabulous, extravagant, kind, supportive of other gay, trans, or queer youth and she was a homeless. She along with many folks set off what was to become the "Stonewall riot" and became an activist alongside Silvia Rivera and many others fighting for Gay rights, affordable medication for Aids patients, etc. Silvia and Marsha founded an organization called STAR-Street Transvestite and Revolutionary, the first organization to reach out to homeless trans youth. When we think of Black History Month all across the US, gay, bisexual, transgender folks are often invisible. I believe all black folks should be celebrated for their humanity and their achievements. 


School Visit- Woodland Elementary Oakland

This week I had he pleasure to visit Woodland Elementary in East Oakland off of 81st ave for African American literature week. I got a chance to read from "A Bean and Cheese Taco Birthday" and "I am Sausal Creek". I read to a group of Kindergarden and 1st-5th grade students. I also was asked to bring some artwork to show the students which they really liked. They all had really cool questions and its always fun to read to and reach the youth. Plus, we were at one of my favorite libraries in Oakland-the 81st branch.

BIG thanks to Janine Macbeth, Oakland Education Fund, and the staff/parents of Woodland Elementary!

Steve Muhammad-Black is Beautiful 6

It was recently after showing my uncle a documentary about black folks in martial arts that I came across Steve (Sijo Sabir Muhammad) ). Steve is an incredible martial artists with many years of experience under his belt.  He was taught by Ed Parker, and has himself trained hundreds of students. He is a 10th degree black belt in Karate Kenpo and he is the founder of BKF-the Black Karate Foundation, which he started because of racism in the competition circuit and magazine publishers of martial arts. He was a good friend of Bruce Lee's, and if you saw "Enter the Dragon" there is a scene where Jones visits an all black karate school where Steve was the head instructor. Steve also trained many brothers as part of the Nation of Islam's security and suprisingly was an LAPD police officer before joining the nation.  And he also served as Wesley Snipes' bodyguard at one point. Steve is still practicing and teaching today, much respect to you brother. You can visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/steve.muhammad.9

Guru-Black is Beautiful 5

"Even in this rap game, all that glitters ain't gold. Now that rap is big business, the snakes got bold. They give you wack contracts and try to make you go pop, because they have no regard for real hip hop. They'll compare you to others and say -but yo he sells!-when you know in your heart, that he's weak as hell" -Guru on The Conspiracy
This is brother Keith Elam, better known as Guru from the mighty Gangstarr. Guru, originally from Boston moved to Brooklyn in the 80s as an MC and started a group with DJ Premier that touched a lot of people. I'm one of those people and the first time I ever saw a Gangstarr tape, it was "Step in the Arena" and my cousin Mook had it. After that I bought Daily Operation, Hard To Earn, Moment of Truth, The Owners, etc. And there are so many incredible poetic lines from Guru in them, besides his many side projects such as Jazzmatazz. He passed away in 2010 abut his spirit lives on.

"Ever since the declaration, of independence we've been easily brainwashed but just one sentence. It goes-(all men are created equal). Thats why corrupt governments kill innocent people........And every time there's violence shown in the media, usually its a black face so where are they leading ya? To a world full of ignorance, hatred, and prejudice. TV and the news for years they have fed you this". Guru on "The Conspiracy"


MC Sha Rock-Black is Beautiful 4

"Sha-Rock is the woman with the magical touch. I'm like burning fire! You know I'm much too much!" was the line I remember from seeing Sha Rock on the mic in Beat Street as a kid. Later on I would hear "They're four fly guys, i'm the best female. I'm telling the truth not a fairytale" while she rhymed with the hip hop legends "Funky Four + 1". Sha Rock, is one of the earliest women on the mic during the birth and pioneering years of early hip hop mcing. She's still alive and rocking, but I wanted to give her some props for Black History Month! Much love Sha, I play your records for my son so he knows the sisters were there from the start.


El Yanga- Black is Beautiful 3

El Yanga, was a maroon in Veracruz Mexico. Over the centuries many of the Africans enslaved all across the Americas and in the caribbean rebelled, escaped, or fled their captors. Gaspar Yanga or "El Yanga" was one of those who rebelled and established a maroon society in Mexico which survived many years, with countless Africans escaping and fleeing to its stronghold. His maroon society was so strong the Spanish tried to get him to negotiate and they fought back. Please share Gaspar Yanga's story and look for his statue that todays stands in Veracruz.


Asian Art Museum-Timeline Illustrations

Peace and blessings, this is an honor to share. A couple of months ago I began work on a HUGE project to create 5 interlocking illustrations for the San Francisco Asian Art museum. I had the chance to work with an amazing art directing team Jonathan Lee (Head of digital experience) and Mel Chang over at the museum, as well as designer Anne Nguyen who invited me to the project.

The museum has been around for a very long time and I actually had never visited it, growing up my whole life in the Bay Area. But once I started the project i spent hours walking around checking out a fraction of their collection, which rotates yearly because they have so much great artwork there. Here are a few bits from the art making process for the first illustration for the foundation of the museum, the "Gold Rush" period from 1846-1935. Here you can see some of my process for these illustrations.

Please go visit the museum in SF and check out the website + art HERE
and scroll through the pages and links to see the different time periods of the museum's collection, patrons, and exhibitions such as:
A Jewel in GoldenGate Park 1966-1975
Museum comes of age 1976-2002
Heart of the city 2003-Now

Scurlock photographers-Black is Beautiful 2

The Scurlocks were a family of photographers who shot weddings, birthday parties, dances, family portraits, city scenes, and historic figures-all capturing an unforgettable vision of Black life. They worked mostly in Washington DC capturing so many events and people from the 1930's until the early 90's. I found their work looking through books at the publiclibrary and I think more people should know abt them.

I'll be doing these drawings all month and i invite any artists to participate in drawing, collaging, photographing, or just posting photos of black folks for Black history month because "BlackisBeautiful" Peace!