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.

Monday

Photo Essay: Faith's 6th Grade Graduation in 1942



Faith Ringgold, then Faith Jones, graduated from P.S. I86 then located on 145th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway in 1942. This is her class picture. She was 11 years old (her birthday in October). The principal she can recall was Dr. Bernath. Her best friend was Catherine English. Catherine and she went through Elementary, Junior High and High School together. Faith describes her teachers as mostly Irish Catholic, not racially progressive but excellent teachers nonetheless. The students, she says, were immigrants from China, Puerto Rico and Germany.

Their graduation ceremony in 1942 was suspended for fear that there might be an air raid during the ceremonies. WWII was still in progress.

Faith reports that the classroom instruction was often racist in its interpretation of history and culture but Faith had a mother (Willi Posey, Momma Jones) who was vigilante and attentive who accompanied her to school every day and who often interacted with her teachers in order to straighten out various misconceptions of African American history. She also says that all the teachers adored her mother who had a winning personality.

Although the student population was racially integrated, the neighborhoods they lived in were not. On the other hand, the neighborhoods were also smaller and probably all in direct proximity to the school. Faith says she never had any white friends until she went to college at the City College of New York which was right there in the same neighborhood.

Faith also describes the WPA Murals that decorated the auditorium. We all wonder what happened to them. P.S. 186 has stood vacant and in decrepit condition for decades now. Owned by the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, something prevents this magnificent building from participating in the architectural renaissance going on in the rest of Harlem, not sure what. Partly because of her experience of teaching in the public schools, Faith decided to never send my sister and I to public schools. The City College of New York was the first public school I ever attended. I began classes there in 1970 after a first semester spent at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Friends of Soul Pictures

Post Archive

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