MY 2012: Black children inspired by brothers and sisters in Renaissance Europe

 It's my picture of 2012, the drawing "Renaissance City" by Harlem Part Elementary/Middle School Students in US.  They made the drawing after a visit from a museum educator, who introduced them to work of the exhibition Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe of the Walter Art Museum. Students were asked to bring the portraits to life and give them a voice.

What moved me about this drawing is the creation of a their new perspective. From the old and more recent images of slavery and discrimination in the US, to a far more old period in Europe where black people where not only servants and slaves, but also royal court members and diplomats. Seeing yourself riding on a horse in a European city in the 15th century is a new and very powerful image to grow up with. I hope the recent wave of exhibitions of the images of black people in the 15th and 16th centuries and beyond, will further change their perspective and move them past the artificial boundaries of what is black and what is white.

The children were probably also inspired by the painting "Netherlandish", Chafariz d’el Rey in the Alfama District (View of a Square with the Kings Fountain in Lisbon), ca. 1570-80, oil on panel.


  1. Hello guys!

    Just to thank you for your amazing job for us. I just created my blog about Spain and I'm gonna be stealing some ideas from your blog, if you don't mind.

    Happy new year!

    1. Do I mind? No of course not! Please write about your afro-Spanish experience and keep me posted.

  2. Afro-Europe,
    I can only speak from MY perspective, but I believe the recent threads at this blog showcasing the African presence in different eras of European history is the greatest thing I could imagine! It is so absolutely HEALING to imagine that we, African descended and continental African men and women, played a role in the every day life of Old Europe!

    If you knew how many times I've read and reread the thread about the Black Presence in the Netherlands of centuries past, and became ecstatic about reading of the Ethiopian diplomat going to a world conference against the spread of radical Islam during the Middle Ages, that was mentioned as part of one of the portrait exhibits, you'd laugh your head off! LOL!

    In all seriousness, there is no way a Black person can read this information and see these portraits and remain the same; it's impossible! When you learn---and SEE in portrait---that Blacks were not simply enslaved beings in the colonies of the New World, or, only servants in the royal homes of Europe, but were ALSO "regular contributing citizens" in cotidian life of Old Europe, you've got to come away feeling very, very good about yourself. There's no way you can ever see yourself, and by extension the Black race, the same after knowing this.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. John thanks. You are absolutely right about these images, it does change your perception. It's sometimes hard to imagine that these stories and images have been here for ages, but were just never told.

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