WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Students at the Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach are helping to set up a history lesson. Posters of African and African American men and women heroes are the subjects.
Teacher Denise Lawrence gives directions.
"Having the opportunity to do research to learn more about these individuals and understand exactly what their contributions were. Some of them have had to sacrifice their lives for various causes and just being able to connect with them is an opportunity for inspiration," she said.
The Kijana Heroes poster series consists of 37 inspiring historical and contemporary figures. People like Aviator Bessie Coleman, Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers to women's rights activist Sojourner Truth.
The posters are the brainchild of Jim Cummings.
"A lot of it was stories that spoke to me. People that I thought were particularly notable or their story was interesting. And I was trying to look also for people who I didn't think their story was out there," he said.
To create the poster series, Cummings teamed up with graphic artist Claire Salmon.
"She did the first one and I was like wow! It was like better than I could dream of and so we did a handful more and then a handful more," he said.
Salmon said there's a pressure that comes with a white artist crafting black portraits of such influential people. she said it took a lot of thought and study.
"I would pause and even think about the expression I was giving them. Like most of the pictures, I have of them is smiling but if their road was a strenuous and tragic place to go, I don't want to put that face forward if it doesn't represent their journey," she said.
Cummings said she wants to help communities be aware of these prominent figures. He hopes to inspire not only schools but other organizations and people to use the posters as an educational tool and to make an impact beyond Black History Month.