Black is Beautiful (2017) 11- Roy DeCarava

I first heard Roy's name mentioned by director of photography Bradford Young (Selma, Arrival). Roy was born in Harlem in 1919 and grew up there during the renaissance, the depression, and the rise of Be-bop. Roy started out as a painter and although he struggled to get scholarships for college made it to NY's Cooper Union and the Harlem Art Center. His early influence began with Charles White, but later switched to Photography for its immediacy and speed. He is one of the most incredible photographers working for many publications, putting out 5 books of his work including a collaboration with Langston Hughes. He was awarded by the Guggenheim foundation and had over 15 exhibitions of his work. Facing struggles to get freelance work, he started his own gallery which featured many top photographers. And he helped teach the next generation of African American photographers by starting a workshop called "Kamoinge". Roy passed in 2009 but his impact on the art form still lives.

You can purchase this piece $40 (includes shipping) , email at info@robdontstop.com 
Sources: Conversations w/ Roy, Npr, Wikipedia


Black is beautiful (2017) 10- Betty Reid Soskin

Betty is 95 years young! She has a quiet grace and strength about her, multiple lives lived, a progressive grasp of world events, and a beautiful singing voice. She was born in 1921 in Detroit and spent her early years in Louisiana. Her family moved to Oakland California after a huge flood of New Orleans in 1927. After coming to California she found that most Black women had only a few options for work. In her talks she makes a point to mention getting a job doing clerical work was a step up in those times. In the 40s her and her first husband Mel Reid owned a Gospel record label in Berkeley, California. She later on remarried to William Soskin, had several children, and outlived two husbands. She lived as a house wife in Walnut Creek, wrote songs, participated in civil rights work, and at the age of 85 starting working as a park ranger. She is the oldest working park ranger today. She has spoken at events about her life and history all across the US, and has been  awarded the ACLU, California state legislature, and by former president Barack Obama. One of the most instrumental things she did as a park ranger was consult during the creation of a urban national park. She explains that because finding decent paying work was so difficult for Black families then and in many cases now; that people of color often did not have the leisure time or disposable income to access the larger state parks (and there are many) so they decided to bring them to inner cities like Richmond. I took my son and his mother to the Rosie The Riveter museum in Richmond where Betty works. Betty gave the planners some context as to which areas in Richmond that would be included in the park were sites of racial segregation and struggle for African Americans, a detail she remembers by saying "What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering. There was no grand conspiracy to leave my history out. There simply was nobody in that room who had any reason to know that". If you get the chance, listen to her speak or read her blog.

You can purchase this $40 (includes shipping) Sidenote: recently, she was attacked/robbed in her home (she's ok). For folks interested in buying this, I will donate a portion of this to her to help replace some of what was stolen from her home. Email me at info@robdontstop.com

sources: National Park Service, Wikipedia, http://cbreaux.blogspot.com/

One of a kind, like me 5- 10 LGBTQ picture books

Here is an awesome post by Pragmatic Mom about 10 LGBTQ picture books that are out now. Please read more here


Black is beautiful (2017) 9 - Prince

I found it extremely difficult to act like everything was normal the day I heard Prince transitioned to being one of our ancestors. I used to come to my aunt Liz's house and every single time I visited she would be playing this movie. It was Purple Rain and it felt like she watched it all the time. Later I would come to the realization that folks were playing this guy's music all around me. I came to know him myself as a fan really when Graffiti Bridge came out. One of my favorite songs "New Power Generation" from that soundtrack went like this

"Pardon me for living, but this is my world too
I can't help that what's cool to us, might be strange to you
Pardon me for breathing, borrow some of your air?
The problem with you and your kind is that you don't know love is there

Pardon me for thinking,  something under my hair
I bet you thought the lights were on but no one's living there
You think that if you tell enough lies they will see the truth?
I hope they bury your old ideas the same time they bury you"

And as a kid, I took it as a middle finger to the established order of things. Maybe not traditional Rock N' Roll, but definitely a system the prides itself on exploitation of others and the use of war anytime someone challenges that pursuit of exploit. Prince was sexy, he showed boys and girls another way of being; both feminine and masculine. And still confident, in charge, and commanding of attention with his immense talent for writing, producing, and performing music. Funk, Jazz, Soul, Rock, and even some Hip Hop all mixed in. It was clear to me as I got older, the more i listened to his records all that he studied, which he was sharing with us. And in some heels. I'm not going to give you the history of his life, but I will say thank you. Thanks for inspiring me to be unique and to take my craft seriously. Prince 1958-forever. And if you are new to his music, keep an eye out for the old and new records, get in where you fit in.

You can purchase this piece $40 (includes shipping) 8"x8" mixed media on paper, email me at info@robdontstop.com


Black is beautiful (2017) 8- Miss Major

I learned about Miss Major first through the incredible artist Micah Bizant. He drew Miss Major and I wrote down her name thinking I need to know something about her too. Miss Major is a trans woman and activist originally from the south side of Chicago who came out when there were no terms like "trans" for who she was yet. She was born in 1940 and after dealing with bullying and abuse by community members found a small community of fellow trans folks in Manhattan. She was there the night of the Stonewall uprising and participated in fighting back alongside vets like Marsha P and Sylvia Rivera. Later she moved around, eventually settling in the Bay Area. She has over the years been a constant voice and role model for young trans black women because she has spoken out against mistreatment, neglect, and ignorance. She spent time in prison and also advocates for trans prisoners locked in a system that does not understand them. Recently a documentary about her life was made by Annalise Ophelian and Storm Miguel. I am just learning as I go, but as a straight man of color wanted to give some props to Black trans folks who should be an integral part of Black history month! Miss Major is still kicking ass and is the former Executive director of the "Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project". 
Sources: Wikipedia, Major! (doc),  tgijp.org

You can purchase this piece $40 (includes shipping) 8"x8" mixed media on paper. If anyone purchases it i will donate a portion to the Trans Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project! email at info@robdontstop.com


Black is beautiful (2017) 7- Bessie Coleman

Bessie has the unique distinction of being the first African American woman to be a licensed pilot. Bessie was born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. She first became interested in flying around the time of World War 1. She wanted to fly but was denied because of race and gender. So, on the advice of others she went to Paris France where she obtained her pilot license and in 1921 the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded her a pilot's license. She came back to the U.S. as the first to do  what she did and was greeted with respect and admiration. She began performing as a pilot in air shows known as barn storming. She also was invited to speak to schools and groups across the U.S. about her experiences. She died in a plane accident in 1926, but inspired many women of all kinds to become pilots. 
Sources: Black Wings-Von Hardesty , PBS, BessieColeman.com

you can purchase this original painting $40 (includes shipping) 8"x8" mixed media on paper. Please email at info@robdontstop.com

Furqan's First Flat Top UPDATE 19-ACL

There are times when you're not sure if the folks you are sending your work to will be able to "see" your work but I was excited last year when I found that my book not only got into one of my local library systems, but that now the association is giving Furqan's First props is amazing. Read the review and reviews of other books here.

And check out the other books from up and comers to OG's in kids literature on the page, specifically Laura Atkins' book she co-authored with Stan Yogi about Fred Korematsu.
And if you havent already please request Furqan's First at your local library, store, school, doctor's office, day care center, etc. Peace!

Black is Beautiful (2017) 6 - Frosty Freeze (RSC)

Like many outside of NYC the first time I saw Frosty was in Style Wars. Frosty was one of the original early 80s members of Rock Steady Crew, a pioneering Bboy crew from the Bronx and Manhattan. Frosty was born in 1963 and began Breaking in his teens. Frosty would do some ill moves that were not only acrobatic but dumb founding and unique like his dead man fall, where he would jump up and fall flat backwards. The brother was featured on the cover of the Village Voice, was in many films such as "The Freshest Kids" and "Planet B-Boy". Its not known to me what he died from at age 44 but he passed much too soon. After seeing his fellow Rock Steady brother Ken Swift on the train, it was apparent that these dudes were really down to earth, extremely talented, and pioneers for hip hop culture world wide. He was an artist with his own style that showed with every move he made.

Sources: Wild Style (documentary), NY Times, The Freshest Kids (doc), 

You can purchase this original piece $40 (includes shipping), please email at info@robdontstop.com. Anyone who has ties w/ his fam, I'm down to donate to any fund they have set up.


Black is Beautiful (2017) 5 - Dr. Dorothy L. Brown

Dorothy Lavinia Brown was born in 1919 in Philadelphia, PA. She was brought up as an orphan and had a tough childhood, going back and forth between custody of her mother and orphanages. She said she never had real parents until she was in her mid teens. The family that took her in gave her love and asked that she finish school, which she did. She was the top of all her classes from her days at the orphanage to high school and later Bennett College. She got an internship at a hospital in New York. And when she was denied a residency there as a doctor she went back to school at Meharry College and got her residency there.  In he late 50's she became the chief of surgery at a hospital in Tennessee, a first for the state and the entire south. She also became the first un married parent to be authorized as an adoptive parent and was the first Black woman to represent Tennessee in the state legislature. She is an award winning doctor and activist who also gave back to the orphanage where she was raised, advocated for women's right to abortion, and helped with the establishment of the first Black history week, which late became Black history month. She passed away in 2004.

Sources: Findagrave.com, Black Past -Abysinnia Baptist Church, Wikipedia


Black is Beautiful (2017) 4- Dapper Dan

The first couple times I saw Dapper Dan's work I didn't even know it was his. In fact it wasn't until I saw the film "Fresh Dressed" By Sacha Jenkins that I realized I had been seeing it all along in hip hop culture. The first folks I saw rocking his work were Salt N' Pepa because my dad had the record (Push it 12") and Boogie Down Productions LP By Any Means Necessary. Dan is a fashion innovator and pioneer from Harlem New York, who in the early 80s began to custom tailor, cut, and sew his own pieces. We're talking about pants, bags, hats, jackets, cars even, and what he was doing was not unlike hip hop; he took fabric from established brands like Gucci or Louie Vuitton and cut them to his own style. He began to make clothing for hip hop cats of course, but the underground economists or hustlers out of NY, and once word got around people from all over began to come to his store, which was open 24 hours a day. I would love to see more documentary work done about his achievements, because back then these high class brands did not respect Black youth culture. So, he remixed it and created a self sustaining business. Salute the brother, he is still designing today. 
Sources: Fresh Dressed (documentary), Aol, DapperDanOfHarlem.com

You can purchase this original drawing: $40 (includes shipping) email at info@robdontstop.com