J usticeAid believes in justice and the power of art to bring us together in the fight for a more equitable nation and world. This year, in parallel with our fundraising for Black Voters Matter, each month we will highlight Black artists in order to uplift those whose voices have been muted, and whose visions can help us all see ourselves as we really are, and as we could be.

Faith Ringgold, Woman on a Bridge #1 of 5: Tar Beach,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY. Gift, Mr. and Mrs. Gus and Judith Leiber, 1988



As an artist, activist, author, and educator, Faith Ringgold embraces the potential for social change by undermining racial and gender stereotypes through impassioned and optimistic presentations of its black female heroines. Tar Beach, the first story quilt in her colorful and lighthearted series entitled Women on a Bridge, depicts the fantasies of its spirited heroine and narrator Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who, on a summer night in Harlem, flies over the George Washington Bridge. The quilt symbolizes the potential for freedom and self-possession but also alludes to intentional ways whites kept Blacks away from public beaches. 

Faith Ringgold, born 1930 in Harlem, New York, is a painter, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, writer, teacher, and lecturer.

Known for her oil paintings and narrative-painted story quilts, she created a body of work in the 1970s that reflected her political activism and her personal story within the context of the women’s movement. She is the recipient of more than 80 awards and honors including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; two National Endowment for the Arts Awards; and The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award.

In 2019, a major retrospective of Ringgold’s work was mounted by London’s Serpentine Galleries followed by her first career retrospective, American People, at the New Museum (NY) in 2022 before traveling to the De Young Museum (San Francisco).

Listen to Ringgold discuss Tar Beach, an adaptation of her popular children’s book of the same name.



“Master Blaster (Jammin’),” from Stevie Wonder’s 1980 album Hotter Than July (Tamia, a subsidiary of Motown), envisions the people of the world coming together in peace, a vision Wonder shared with reggae superstar Bob Marley. It was an international smash hit, topping the charts in four countries and reaching the top five in several more including the US and the UK.


Temperatures rise in “Heat Wave,” a light and amorous Motown hit sung by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Said Martha Reeves on Motown: “The sound was a very big influence in the civil rights movement. It was not that we marched or paraded; we just promoted it through love.”


Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is a 2021 Academy Award-winning documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which celebrated African-American music and culture and promoted Black pride and unity. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, and more. Despite its large attendance and performers, the festival was much less well-known in the 21st century than is Woodstock (which took place on the same weekend as one of the days of the Harlem Cultural Festival), and the filmmakers investigate this, among other topics.


Ahmir K. Thompson, better known as Questlove, is a drummer and founding member of the Roots (the house band on “The Tonight Show”), two-time musical director for the Academy Awards, DJ, and author. His directorial debut “Summer of Soul ” won Best Documentary Feature at the 2022 Academy Awards. Listen to a Los Angeles Times interview with Questlove on the making of the film.

Suppressed Speech

Frederick Douglass (credit: Everett Historical/Shutterstock)

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine, You may rejoice, I must mourn.” — Frederick Douglass

In his 1852 speech commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Rochester, NY, Douglass acknowledged the Founding Fathers for their commitment to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But in doing so, he brings awareness to the hypocrisy of their ideals by the existence of slavery on American soil.  It was a scathing speech in which Douglass sought not only to convince people of the wrongfulness of slavery but also to make abolition more acceptable to Northern whites. Read the speech here and Slate magazine’s revisiting of the fiery speech.

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