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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Artist Believes His ‘Critical Race Theory’ Graphic Should Be in Every Classroom in America

Lawrence D. Jones with Rise to History graphic

Nationwide — Artist Lawrence D. Jones, with his depiction of “Rise to History” a black and white, computer-generated graphic, uniquely depicting a compilation of African American role models, that may be used to defy systemic racism in our educational system. Teaching the history of the Black experience in this country is being discouraged, prohibited, and said to be irrelevant.

The artist is seeking a major corporate or private sponsor to offer school districts across the country free copies of this print to students and to display in classrooms to begin the discussion. This print may be the most diplomatic way to begin dialogue in our schools. It will also be great for Black History Months, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Juneteenth holidays.

Critical race theory (CRT) can also be looked at as Culturally Responsive Teaching a teaching method that involves understanding and focusing on a student’s cultural background. Critical race theory has many benefits, including the fact that students can understand better and become more motivated to learn.

Schools are already facing questions about critical race theory, and there are significant disagreements about its precise definition as well as how its views should inform K-12 policy and practice. Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but something embedded in the educational system and policies.

Growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s in a segregated part of Oakland, California, Lawrence was never introduced to historical Black role models in school. Heroes only came in white, there were no visual images of early black contributors to this country, no inspirational figures to aspire to, or even a black face to hang on his wall. A magazine photo of San Francisco Warriors basketball great Nate Thurman was the first heroic figure Lawrence placed on his wall, and this was the visual encouragement he needed.

Nate Thurman’s image gave Lawrence the confidence he needed to become an all-around athlete and earned him a basketball scholarship to San Diego State University – California. There he enjoyed a successful collegiate career while studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree. After college, he took the opportunity to play professional basketball in France, Spain, Germany, and the Philippines. He also had a brief stint as a professional football player with the Los Angeles Rams Professional Football team. Lawrence contributes Nate Thurman’s basketball image taped to his wall as his motivational factor.

His years of international travel exposed him to unique education and enhanced his appreciation for different cultures, arts, and sports. After his athletic career, he pursued his passion for art and returned home to Oakland, with the intent to start a career reaching youth through art. Lawrence figured since a single image of a Black hero could inspire him, just how much more will a single image of a compilation of Black role models achieve?

Imagining is a powerful medium for inspiration that can be embedded in our children’s minds. Discouraging or trying to make irrelevant the truth of Black history only adds insult to injury. History not shared, is history lost. The artist is offering this print as a diplomatic solution to only begin classroom dialogue. A sponsor is more significant now than ever before.

For press inquiries, contact Lawrence D. Jones at 4onecollection@gmail.com or (916) 969-2062

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