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Juneteenth '23

What did you do for Juneteenth?

I visited the Jefferson Eugene Grigsby Jr. exhibit at Hayden Library, ASU. Although his paintings and works achieved global acclaim, Dr. Grigsby and his wife "Tommy" were known and beloved at the grassroots. He founded the Consortium of Black Organizations and Others for the Art (COBA), which at one time was housed in the Phoenix-OIC building on Jackson Street. He brought in internationally recognized artists, including Maya Angelou, Jacob Lawrence and Harry Belafonte.

My family knew Eugene as someone who was a lover of all people, irrespective of ethnicity or hue. He, in the words of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, "Kissed the earth with his feet."

Below is one of his celebrated prints, "Mask of Hope" (Senna Woods Harris and Family).

Dr. Grigsby, who died in 2013 at the age of 95, would not have been happy about the fact that few people attended the free exhibit- at least when I was there, at midday.

But he would have been thrilled that his work was being celebrated in honor of Juneteenth. He was a strong advocate for education and justice for all.

When I got home, I made my husband and I a pot of Peanut Stew, with fresh groundnuts and tomatoes. It is a delicacy that I first tasted on a trip to support our teacher training efforts in Senegal.


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