Friday, March 13, 2015

ButterFly McQueen

Sometime in the late 1980's when I was teaching at the Atlanta College of Art we got a call from someone at the Gone With the Wind Museum who wanted to know if we would be interested in having Butterfly McQueen come and give a talk at the art college. As ranking member of the school's visiting artist committee I said Yes!  She was a really wonderful visitor. A lot of people came to the talk from around the city - some of them I am sure thinking she was really like the Prissy character she played in the movie. They probably didn't know she had been black listed as someone who had been involved with communism and had a tough time getting work or that she lived in Harlem and was a civil rights activist. She graciously refused to say "I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies" and then went ahead and said it anyway. An older person in the audience asked her what her religious beliefs were for what reason I can't imagine. She responded "My religion is keeping my house clean." And from that moment it became my religion too. She told me later she was adding artists to her list of people who could get things changed - right behind teachers and politicians.

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