Jacob Lawrence, The 1920's... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots

The 1920's... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots
The 1920's... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots, 1975
Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000)
Seven-color screen print
32 × 24 7/8 in. (81.3 × 63.2 cm)
Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Lorillard, a Division of Loew's Theatres, Inc., 1975
© The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Jacob Lawrence's print The 1920's... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots shows African Americans in the process of voting. Here voting is not treated as the result of over a century of fighting and oppression, but as a joyful social activity rendered in bright colors, where male and female figures of varying ages interact with one another while serving their civic duty.

Lawrence's earlier depiction of African Americans in the North voting, a part of the Migration Series of 1940-41, notably depicts the line of voters facing a potential threat from a white police officer, recalling the state-sanctioned intimidation faced by African American voters in the late 19th and 20th centuries. However, given the celebratory nature of the Lorillard-sponsored project, and taking into account the recent advances made as a result of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, we can understand the shift to a more nostalgic rendering.

Question to ponder:

Suffrage and Celebration
2. The 1920's... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots