Celebrate Febru-every day.

One day, while with a friend . . .

. . . visiting another friend, I noticed a pen and ink drawing taped to the wall. I knew who the subject of the drawing was; however the drawing was not very good. I thought, I can do a better drawing and go a step further by adding more value with a short biography.
I went home, did my illustration and made 1,000, 11-inch by 17-inch, black-and-white copies. My brother-in-law and I sold them around town.
The following summer, I had five more drawings, six total. Printed 1,000 copies of each drawing and we sold them at festivals and marches.
That autumn, I wondered how I could carry this theme into the winter months. That’s when the focus became Black History month.


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A vignette

Vignette (vin-yet) — a vignette
  • an illustration used on a page of a book, magazine or the front of a placemat etc.
  • a drawing, photograph or film image, etc., with no definite border, shading off gradually at the edges into the background
  • a short literary sketch or description
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Ask a youth of today: What was Malcolm X’s birth name?
Ask a youth of today: Who was Daniel Hale Williams?
Ask a youth of today: How many trains were there on the Underground Railroad?
The responses you will likely get are totally unacceptable. If you're lucky they will say, “I don't know.”
If the face of slavery, poverty and racism, those who chose to stand up for what they wanted and believed were able to achieve they're goals against incredible odds. Even in failure, it was not for a lack of effort. That same will, that same determination, that same grit is a powerful lesson about the individual spirit of those who fought for the opportunities we enjoy today.
While on vacation, my mother purchased a historical placemat that had a photo line-up with names and a title. The back of the placemat was completely blank. No information, no effort . . . nothing.
Avynyet’s placemats are there day in and day out, unintrusively championing it’s information in a way that is no different than watching the same new car commercial ten times during one hit TV show. After enough visibility, you get it. Yes, this information is readily available it books but . . . hmmm, when was the last time that book was opened? Yes, this information is readily available online but . . . hmmm, when was the last time my child googled Ida B. Wells? Know Your History . . . Be Somebody!

Avynyet . . . Making History Handy!

James E. Smallwood — Founder
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