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A Tribute to African American Artists


I'm Mesha and Circa 1926 is allowing me to share some of my thoughts for Black History Month. As with all history relating to African Americans, it is vast, fascinating, and far too much is unknown. And so, I'm delighted that the theme for Black History Month 2024 is "African Americans and the Arts". Just as our contributions have been demonstrated and recalled in virtually every aspect of life in our country, so it continues with the many contributions and accomplishments of African American artists.  

For the month, Circa 1926 has asked me to explore artists who are known, very well known, and virtually unknown (except by historians and others trained in the discipline). With the exception of one question, there is no particular order of importance or significance attached to any of these posts. Just pure enjoyment. And so, keeping in mind our "first" obsessed culture, let us begin with the one, burning question:

Who was the first professional African American Artist? 


According to the research, America's first professional black artist was Joshua Johnson (his name is written both as Johnson and Johnston).  Joshua Johnson, enslaved but eventually freed, was a portraitist in the 1800's. Today, his works are included in the National Art Gallery collection, and others across the nation. One of the places you can learn more about Joshua is at:


Also, check out the pithy 3 minute video at:

I hope you enjoy learning more. I did.

This is me, sharing


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