17.2.19

Camp Atwater - Black History Month

Last summer I heard about Camp Atwater-a historic piece of Black and American history. I was driving through LA listening to Code Switch. Episode "Summer Vacation" spoke about people of color in the outdoors, the damage the sun can do, and this camp. 

Camp Atwater was founded in 1921 by Dr. William DeBerry. He purchased some 54 acres of land in North Brookfield Massachusetts. That's roughly the size of two baseball stadiums! Dr. DeBerry was was part of the Urban League in Springfield (MA). The Urban League is an organization founded in 1910 in NYC to fight for the rights of Black folks in the US. DeBerry, who was also a pastor helped get a chapter going in Springfield where a sizable population of Black folks had grown. As part of the great migration of Blacks from the South to northern cities. Anyway, Black folks could not send their children to camps owned by Whites. So DeBerry founded Camp Atwater, previously called "St. John's Camp" after the local church. 

Atwater is the oldest Black owned camp for Black children in the US. They have a time slot during the summer for boys, and one for girls. Kids come, and stay in cabins. They get three meals a day, and the hang out, do activities, have fun. Atwater has offered archery, baseball, basketball, Black history, chess, creative writing, drama, fencing, fishing, football, hiking, lacrosse, martial arts, soccer, and more. Swimming stuck out to me because like the camp's Black folks often didn't have access to pools back then. Camp Atwater was set on the shore of a lake and they made sure youth knew how to swim! 

Being in existence this long makes me wonder what kind of organization, project management, bookkeeping, conflict resolution, and grit it has taken to keep it open for nearly a century! On their site you can read more about them and I highly recommend listening to the CodeSwitch episode which interviews former attendees and talks about the economic mix of kids. I would love to hear how they are welcoming or being open to transgender Black kids who don't identify as Boy or Girl. . But, BIG shout out to Camp Atwater for making building a sanctuary. And big shout out to Outdoor Afro who has reignited a long tradition of Black folks getting outdoorsy and new to the outdoors Black folks together.

If you are new to my blog, my name is Robert Liu-Trujillo. I'm a father, husband, and an illustrator from the Bay Area. I love hiking, camping, backpacking, and I even did some fishing with my grandparents as a kid. For this image I wanted to focus on some of the activities the camp has offered while also giving a feeling of being outdoors. I also have been painting and drawing images for Black history month for the last three years. To see more of them  CLICK HERE.
-Rob

Sources: Codeswitch NPR Podcast, Camp Atwater, Urban League of SpringfieldBlack Past

Word to Inkwell, someone needs to make a movie based on this camp! A documentary or narrative!

Some of my favorites from Black History Month over the years:

Elizabeth Catlett
Steve Muhammad
Roxanne Shante
Roy DeCarava
Memphis Minnie
Blake Brockington
Shine Louise Houston


9.2.19

Character 146 - Self Portrait 2019 + new branding

Hey, I've done a few self portraits over the past five years. Here's a new new one, which You'll be seeing a lot more of. 

Here's a painterly one
Here's a teen version, similar to this one

Also, I just updated my website, blog, and other social media with this new image and typography. Check it out.


7.2.19

Bookmark 5 - Story time teens

Here's a new book mark. An educator asked me to take my story time poster and make a bookmark out of it, so I did and it looks great. You can cop one here. Here are some other images of it.



1.2.19

Contract Buyers League - Black History Month

I illustrated this to contribute to a poster book called "Celebrate People's History", which will be published by Feminist Press next year. This book is being spearheaded by artist Josh Macphee and features over a hundred great artists speaking on moments of social justice and resistance, not just individuals. To find out more about the book, follow Feminist Press. Follow Josh's work at Just Seeds here.

I first came across the CBL after reading Tanheisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations" (The Atlantic, 2014); then again through Beryl Satter's book "Family Properties". The Contract Buyers League was formed in 1968 by Black residents of North Lawndale Chicago, priest Jack Macnamara, and young organizers.

Black folks have been robbed for hundreds of millions by what is known as contract lending for housing in Chicago. To buy a house you need a mortgage which you pay into over time, can renegotiate, and pay a fair price for. This can be obtained by getting a loan from a bank, by saving a large sum of money, or from wealth passed down. Black folks were consistently refused by banks , rarely had wealth passed down, and often worked many jobs to afford a down payment. In Chicago, they were also limited to where they could live after and during the great migration (1917-1960) from the Southern US to cities like Chicago (and NY, Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, etc).


Enterprising white businessmen made contracts that allowed Black folks to live in a home. But, these men bought a home for 6 or 8 thousand dollars and would sell it to Black families for double or triple that cost. If the Black families missed one payment during the first year or the 15th year the businessmen could come take the house back and flip it again to another Black family. As a result Black families worked twice or three times harder than whites to buy and live in a house. The contract owner also assumed no responsibility for repairs, licenses, or taxes. In fact, they would often require Black home owners to make additions to their homes costing them even more. As a result Black housing became worn down, they had less time to care for their kids, and this was used as a way to talk down to or label their neighborhoods "ghetto's".

So, Jack, college students, and Black residents organized. They formed the "Contract Buyers League" to stop this madness in their city.They went around helping folks understand the language written in the contracts, gathered resources, strategized in large meetings, withheld money from these thieving contract owners, and helped some 400 families renegotiate their monthly payment and contracts so that they could own their homes. How did they do it? They embarrassed the owners, picketed, faced physical and verbal violence, spoke to the media, enlisted the help of progressive lawyers, and they organized.

Note, the white businessmen had the support of not only local white residents who didn't want Black folks living near them, but the local police department, the mayor, judges, lawmakers, banks, and the US Federal government through the FHA.

Sources: To read learn more bout their work and the vicious cycle of "redlining" see: Family Properties by Beryl Satter, The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, Code Switch's podcast episode "Location, Location, Location", Tanehisi Coates article "The Case for Reparations",  articles by The Chicago Tribune's and the Chicago Reporter. And the http://contractbuyersleague.blogspot.com/

Process sketch:

Drawn with pencil, paper, photoshop, and the ipad pro

Want to see more of my illustrations from Black History Month? Click HERE