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“There is so much healing to be done on the lands on which so many have fought and died for freedom. And we haven’t come close to addressing that healing that needs to be done. I feel that if you’re able to address what is happening to a people through art, that may be a way to begin a conversation and dialogue." —Jacqueline E. Lawton

Contemporary Perspectives

In telling the story of the Great Migration, Lawrence explored themes of beauty and struggle, opportunity and disparity, and freedom and injustice that have continued to fuel ongoing waves of migration worldwide. Hear a mix of contemporary voices across disciplines address the significance of The Migration Series then and now. 

Contemporary Perspectives: Kinshasha Holman Conwill

Kinshasha Holman Conwill is Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. She formerly served as Director of The Studio Museum in Harlem, Senior Policy Advisor for the Museums & Community Initiative of the American Alliance of Museums, and Project Director for the New York City Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) Creative Communities program. 

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    Kinshasha Holman Conwill
    Kinshasha Holman Conwill on Lawrence and the Harlem community [ 3:18 ]
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    Kinshasha Holman Conwill
    Kinshasha Holman Conwill on socio-historical context of The Migration Series [ 1:55 ]
  • Kinshasha Holman Conwill on contemporary significance of The Migration Series

    Kinshasha Holman Conwill
    Kinshasha Holman Conwill on contemporary significance of The Migration Series [ 2:10 ]
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    Kinshasha Holman Conwill
    Kinshasha Holman Conwill on the legacy of slavery and immigration in America [ 2:10 ]

Contemporary Perspectives: Spencer Crew

Spencer Crew is Robinson Professor of American, African American, and Public History at George Mason Unviersity. He served as President of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for six years and Director of the National Museum of American History for nine years.

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    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on migration's impact on the civil rights movement [ 2:20 ]
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    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on nuanced meaning in The Migration Series [ 2:07 ]
  • Spencer Crew on Panel 53 of The Migration Series

    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on Panel 53 of The Migration Series [ 1:11 ]
    View Panel 53
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    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on universal themes in The Migration Series [ 0:49 ]
  • Spencer Crew on Panel 30 of The Migration Series

    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on Panel 30 of The Migration Series [ 0:43 ]
    View Panel 30
  • Spencer Crew on Panel 45 of The Migration Series

    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on Panel 45 of The Migration Series [ 0:45 ]
    View Panel 45
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    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on the powerful lessons in The Migration Series [ 0:44 ]
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    Spencer Crew
    Spencer Crew on what Panel 61 of The Migration Series might look like [ 1:41 ]

Contemporary Perspectives: David C. Driskell

David C. Driskell is one of the world’s leading authorities on African American art. Trained as a painter and art historian, Driskell works primarily in collage, mixed media, and printmaking. He joined the faculty of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland in 1977 and served as its Chairman from 1978-1983. In 1998, the University of Maryland founded The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora to pay homage to Driskell’s career as artist, educator, philanthropist, collector, and art historian.

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    David Driskell
    David C. Driskell on Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series [ 1:49 ]
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    David C. Driskell
    David C. Driskell on Alain Locke and Jacob Lawrence's distinctive style [ 1:58 ]
  • David C. Driskell on his personal ties to The Migration Series

    David Driskell
    David C. Driskell on his personal ties to The Migration Series [ 2:18 ]
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    David C. Driskell
    David C. Driskell on abstract language in The Migration Series [ 4:01 ]
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    David Driskell
    David C. Driskell on the significance and legacy of The Migration Series [ 4:03 ]
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    David C. Driskell
    David C. Driskell on how The Migration Series speaks to us all [ 1:46 ]

Contemporary Perspectives: John Edward Hasse

John Edward Hasse is Curator of American Music at the National Museum of American History. As the biographer of Duke Ellington, the creator of Jazz Appreciation Month, the founder of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, a Grammy-nominated writer on music, and an accomplished musician himself, Hasse is a global voice for American jazz music.

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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on Harlem's music scene of the 1930s [ 1:19 ]
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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on musical associations with The Migration Series [ 1:17 ]
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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on 1930s blues [ 1:15 ]
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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on Harlem's jazz legend Duke Ellington [ 2:06 ]
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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on the migration of musical traditions from the South to the North [ 1:17 ]
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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on significance of The Migration Series [ 1:05 ]
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    John Edward Hasse
    John Edward Hasse on Washington, DC's music scene in the 1930s [ 1:15 ]

Contemporary Perspectives: Jacqueline E. Lawton

Jacqueline E. Lawton was named one of 30 of the nation’s leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin as a James A. Michener Fellow. Her plays include: Anna KBlood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; and Noms de Guerre. Lawton is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel, a dramaturg at PlayMakers Repertory Theatre Company, and a member of the Dramatist Guild of America.

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    Jacqueline E. Lawton
    Jacqueline E. Lawton on relevance of Lawrence's Migration Series today [ 2:29 ]
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    Jacqueline Lawton
    Jacqueline E. Lawton on storytelling in The Migration Series [ 2:00 ]
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    Jacqueline Lawton
    Jacqueline E. Lawton on theatricality of The Migration Series [ 2:44 ]
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    Jacqueline E. Lawton
    Jacqueline E. Lawton on community and The Migration Series [ 0:34 ]
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    Jacqueline E. Lawton
    Jacqueline E. Lawton on personal ties to The Migration Series [ 3:32 ]

Contemporary Perspectives: E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of several collections of poems and two memoirs and the Board Chair of the Institute for Policy Studies. In April 2015, Miller was inducted into the Washington, DC, Hall of Fame. The Association of Writers & Writing Progams (AWP) presented Miller with the 2016 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature. His most recent book, The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, edited by Kirsten Porter, was published by Willow Books in 2016.

  • E. Ethelbert Miller on DC migrant community and ongoing patterns of reverse migration

    E. Ethelbert Miller
    E. Ethelbert Miller on DC migrant community and ongoing patterns of reverse migration [ 0:43 ]
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    E. Ethelbert Miller
    E. Ethelbert Miller on Langston Hughes as a poet of the Great Migration [ 2:03 ]
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    E. Ethelbert Miller
    E. Ethelbert Miller reading an excerpt from Langston Hughes's The Big Sea [ 1:30 ]
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    E. Ethelbert Miller
    E. Ethelbert Miller on the educational value of The Migration Series [ 0:57 ]
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    E. Ethelbert Miller
    E. Ethelbert Miller on how Lawrence would paint the theme of migration today [ 1:11 ]

Contemporary Persepctives: Lou Stovall

Lou Stovall has been credited by artists and critics alike with helping to transform the concept of silkscreen printmaking from a commercial craft to a true art form. He is also an accomplished draftsman, as well as a designer and builder of fine furniture. His drawings and silkscreen prints have earned him grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Stern Family Fund. His current series of silkscreen collages, Vertical Views, is his latest innovation in the medium. Since 1962, he has lived and worked in Washington, DC.

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    Lou Stovall on Jacob Lawrence’s Toussaint L’Ouverture prints
    Lou Stovall on Jacob Lawrence’s Toussaint L’Ouverture prints [ 1:26 ]
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    Lou Stovall
    Lou Stovall on Lawrence's contribution to modern art [ 2:02 ]
  • Lou Stovall on Lawrence as social commentator in The Migration Series

    Lou Stovall
    Lou Stovall on Lawrence as social commentator in The Migration Series [ 1:43 ]
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    Lou Stovall on Jacob Lawrence’s Toussaint L’Ouverture prints
    Lou Stovall on process of creating prints for Jacob Lawrence [ 2:20 ]
  • Lou Stovall on Panel 53 of The Migration Series

    Lou Stovall
    Lou Stovall on Panel 53 of The Migration Series [ 0:59 ]
    View Panel 53
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    Lou Stovall
    Lou Stovall on what Panel 61 of The Migration Series might look like [ 1:29 ]