I haven't forgotten anyone at all, I thought I would go right into blogging and editing the video for the Red Tails tribute that was given at my local library. It was a great event to say the least, the audience fully enjoyed the whole shabang, and I was able to exhibit my community artwork. I also met some locals who didn't know I existed, but then again there are many who don't know me in my neck of the woods. But in addition to the exhibit, my picture along with my artwork was put in the community newspaper(oh boy, I hate photographs) and I was able to present a piece that really made everybody's day. Sgt. Hogues and family could not get over the appreciation and the effort that was put into it, and I have to thank Ms. Almetta Russell, who really worked hard to get this off the ground, as well as the staff at the Highland Hills Library for their support. I have already informed them of my plans for another exhibit soon.
The event was really about Sgt. Hogues in the first place, but I got the wrong impression. I spent days before the event telling everyone that it was also an exhibit, even though the fliers did not speak of such. I realize now the event was a community affair in his honor, and I am privileged to have shown my work at such a prestigious function. However the one piece dedicated to Sgt. Hogues of the Tuskegee Airmen stole the show, although it was not my intention.
Very few people knew about the painting. Ms. Russell informed me a few weeks going into the event that she would like to give something to him as a token of respect and appreciation for what he and the rest of the Tuskegee Airmen accomplished, especially in the face of such blatant racism, such racism that a lot of Americans believed did not exist anymore until Trayvon Martin, although some of us were telling people that the menace was still present...I won't mention names here, it's not important. I didn't show anyone the piece until a couple of hours before the event. Everyone was blown away by it, even the neighbors as I walked to the library. One elderly gentlemen quipped, "You never know what a person can do...." But he's right. Only a few in my area knew what I was capable of.
But the effect that it had on the community, the Hogues family, and me as well proves of the powerful impact that visual art can have on any society. This community has suffered and still suffers from a serious identity crisis, no one could define any landmarks or any notable presence except former basketball player Spud Webb of the NBA, but that's typical of the hood.
Barbara Hogues, daughter of Staff Sgt. Hogues explained during the event that the family was not aware of his involvement of the Tuskegee Airmen until 2008, and he didn't receive his Congressional Medal of Honor until 2009 from the same airport that denied him a job shortly after retiring from the military, telling him the only thing he could do was custodian work. This was AFTER the success the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.
We still have a long way to go before Blacks get serious respect here in America, especially with Trayvon Martin continually haunting America, but now Black youth, as well as White youth should realize all of those slavery stories and stories of racism and domestic terrorism still have impact, because it never left....
Overall I felt it was a victory for a small area that no one cared to remember, except in a negative light, but now we have history as well as culture to bring to the table.