Strong Rooted Volume I: Issue 7-Edmonia Lewis June 22, 2017 (Republished)
We must know where we come from in order to get to where we want to go. Never forget your roots.
Edmonia Lewis was the first Black woman to be recognized internationally as a sculptor. Lewis was an orphan by the age of nine and was raised by her aunt and older brother. Lewis attended Oberlin College, which was one of the first Colleges to accept women of color. Lewis did not have an easy time at the College or in her efforts to earn her degree. Lewis was wrongfully accused of poisoning two other students and of stealing supplies from the school. As a result, she was not allowed to complete her degree. There are always efforts to keep people of color from achieving certain statuses, but what must be remembered is that no one can take your mind.
Lewis would go on to become one of the best-known sculptors in the world and would remain the only Black woman sculpture at the end of the 19th Century. After paving a successful path for herself in Boston, Edmonia saved enough money to move to Rome, where she sculpted one of her most famous pieces, Forever Free. Lewis is also known for her work, The Death of Cleopatra, which was presented at the Centennial Exposition. The Death of Cleopatrachanged owners and locations many times and eventually was donated to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 1877 Lewis was commissioned by then-President Ulysses S. Grant to sculpt a bust of him.
Lewis would complete over thirty-three sculptures in her lifetime. On September 17, 1907, Lewis died in London. Lewis never married or had children, leaving the world only the beauty of her art.
“We need you to roll up your sleeves. We need to get to work. Because remember this: When they go low, we go high.” First Lady Michelle Obama
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