This blog is composed of images and writings related to the life and work of Faith Ringgold, her mother Mme. Willi Posey, and her daughters Michele and Barbara Wallace. There are pages with links to blogs composed of the materials arranged by decades. The blog, itself, will ultimately be composed of materials related to the life of the family in the 90s and the 21st century.

Saturday

Photo-Essay: Stairs from Sugar Hill to the Valley


08stairway, originally uploaded by broadwayhousing.
These are the stairs that lead from Edgecombe Avenue, where I grew up and where my stepdad (Burdette) grew up down to the Valley where MJ and all her siblings and her mother first lived in the early 1920s and where my Mom spent her earlier years at 222 West 146th Street immortalized in her Street Story Quilt of 1986 (collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

When Faith started writing the stories that go with the earlier story quilts, such as "Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemima?" I had no idea where those voices in dialect telling neighborhood stories came from. It was as bracing as a cold shower. At first, I thought it was a put-on, a voice adapted for the amusement and entertainment of the reader as I came of age in a period in which anything delivered in the southern dialects of the colored tongue was considered a ruse and a form of cooning for the white folks.

I didn't yet understand that what I had been taught in the 60s and 70s to consider a deformation of black character and speech was actually an immensely rich source of a variety of working class, rural and subterranean black experiences, a series of lifestyles and adventures-- particularly that adventure of escaping hard times and Jim Crow--to emerge triumphant in the cities of the North and the West.

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Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures

Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures
Barbara, MJ, Michele and Mom in the background in sunglasses at a fashion show in the early 60s