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American Artist

"We are pleased to be able to use this artwork from the National Museum of American Art to help promote Census 2000. The Bureau has requested permission from the Museum and the artist to display this work on the Internet. We are currently awaiting approval."

Jacob Lawrence
(1917 - )

Jacob Lawrence is the first African-American artist to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, but currently lives in Seattle. At age fifteen he decided to become a painter and attended formal art classes at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library. The Library, the artwork selected for the Census 2000 poster, recalls childhood visits to the public library where Lawrence spent many hours reading, attending performances and lectures, and seeing art exhibitions. Lawrence used the library to conduct research for several of his paintings, including his renowned series The Migration of the Negro. The Library, a tempera on fiberboard, was a gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. to National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

In the 1940s, Lawrence documented the migration of African Americans from the South to the North that began during the first World War. Between 1900 and 1980, the share of African Americans living in the South dwindled from 90 percent to 53 percent. Census 2000 should confirm that this incredible migration has slowed and may have even reversed.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Contact: Census 2000 Publicity Office
Created: October 21, 1999
Last Revised: June 14, 2010 at 01:38:55 PM