we are black history Tag

Black is Beautiful (2018) 13 – Greg Liggins

Greg Liggins is a BMX Rider from Hayward California. He came to prominence in the mid 80s for his speed and abilities on the track. He was so fast that he was called “lightning”. He won hundreds of  trophies in his teens and early twenties. He would go on to break a record as the first rider to win four ABA (American Bicycle Association) races. He would ride for large bike companies such as Hutch and Jag. But, in the 80s his team for Hutch was invited to ride in South Africa. Although he was excited to travel he declined in protest once he found out about the apartheid and how Black folks were being treated. For this act of protest, much like Kapernick, he was let go and black balled from racing and his team. But, he stood by his principles and later went on to be a newscaster for KTVU. If you have any connections to Greg, please show him this piece.

As a kid who loved to ride my BMX bike, my GT, I was really excited to learn about Greg!

You can purchase a print for $20 (includes shipping) , email at info@robdontstop.com 

Sources: Home Turf, BMX Life, 38th Notes, and Super Kids

Black is Beautiful (2018) 12 – Pam the Funkstress

The Bay Area lost a legend this past December. I’m fortunate to have met Pam in person while she catered a youth focused event. There I told her how much I respected and appreciate her to which she was super nice. I also got to see her perform with The Coup many times. She was a incredible DJ, always clean with the cuts, timing, and as I understand it, a great musical selector.

Pam started as a battle DJ entering competitions on KMEL and the DMC (Disco Mix Competition). She later became the DJ for the Coup which she remained for nearly two decades. In later years she did not tour with the band but she was always there for special shows. Pam added tracks to Coup LP’s and vicious scratches for each album; always appearing on the covers with Boots and E-roc at first, then just Boots and Pam. I am huge fan of The Coup, and always loved their blend of funk, mob music, political satire, and wit. Pam also DJ’d in the club scene becoming a part of Bay Area Sound System or BASS with several ladies. She did weekly and monthly parties on top of making food and running a catering company (soul food). She later also DJ’d for the one and only Prince, who would later dub her Purple Pam. Read up on her, listen to the music, and count her among the world’s hip hop greats. My condolences to her Family, Boots, The whole Coup fam, and her fans. I am still in disbelief. She definitely got respect from hip hop lovers, turntablists, party DJ’s and the greater Hip hop community at large.

: Life, Coup LPs, San Jose Mercury News

Dig this? See this portrait of Shock G (rip)

Black is Beautiful (2018) 11 – Marlon Riggs

Marlon Riggs was a pioneering Black gay filmmaker. He was born in 1957 in Fort Worth Dallas and  grew up there as part of a military family and moved around a lot. He lived in Georgia and Germany as a result. Always an incredible student and queer he faced discrimination, racism, and alienation from both many people. In the mid 70s he got a scholarship to Harvard University and although he excelled academically was hiding his true sexuality. Then Marlon moved to the Bay Area where he attended UC Berkeley study film and Black history. He became a filmmaker and shot his first documentary “Long Train Running” about West Oakland blues history in 1982. He also began to embrace his sexuality and bean what would become a life long relationship with Jack Vincent. They were among the first gay couples in the Bay to apply for domestic partnership. He went on to become a faculty member at UCB an self funded and produced another film called “Ethnic Notions” about the historic portrayal of Black folks which aired on PBS. He went on to join a group called the “Black Gay Men United” and made a film called “Tongues Untied” which was revolutionary in its portrayal of queer Black men. The film received wide acclaim and criticism. Riggs would go on to make several more films, to win international film awards, to become a young tenured UCB faculty member, and to receive an honorary degree from CCAC (now CCA). Marlon learned after having kidney failure that he was HIV positive. He would later die from complications of AIDS and he vowed to not stay silent about the disease which was ripping apart both queer and straight communities across the US. Marlon was a pioneer in film, Gay pride, and Black history.

Sources: MarlonTRiggs.com, Current.org, I Shall Not Be Removed (film)

Black is Beautiful (2018) 10 – Ruth E Carter

Ruth E. Carter
was born in 1960 and is from Springfield Massachusetts. In her early days of college she wanted to be an actress. Once after auditioning for a play and being passed over for the part she was offered the job of doing costumes for the play and she loved it. She loved it so much she began to design countless costumes for dance shows and theater productions at her school Hampton University. After getting some more schooling at USC and an internship for the Los Angeles Theater Center she would meet a young filmmaker named Spike Lee. In her early career she worked with Keenan Ivory Wayans, but it was with Spike that she would work on more than 12 of his projects. Films such as Malcolm X, Crooklyn, and Do the Right Thing. Carter described her process with a ton of research using photographs, oral history, and books. She uses many references to make a mood or inspiration board in her studio, set trailers, and online that is both physical and digital. Ms Carter has worked on over 40 films and TV shows to date with projects such as Being Mary Jane, Love & Basketball, Selma, The Five heartbeats, Meteor Man, Empire, Serenity, and most recently she designed costumes for Marvel’s Black Panther. She has been nominated for an oscar, an academy award, an emmy, and she has won the “career achievement” award from the American Black Film Festival. Word has it she is training new costume designers as well.

Slate’s Represent podcast, Fashionista, Imdb, Black Reel Awards

Dig this? Check out this piece about Brenda Banks

Black is Beautiful (2018) 9 – Kye Allums

Born in 1989 and hailing from Circle Pines Minnesota Kye is a ground breaking trans activist and former athlete. He went to college at George Washington University and played basketball for the team; the Colonials. Kye had long been queer and in his 3rd yr decided to come out as a transgender male making him the first NCAA athlete to do so (transition from female to male). He has since left basketball. Despite being taunted, called names, and being questioned repeatedly he has become an advocate. Kye now is a public speaker and mentor to LGBTQ youth. He also wrote a book of poems titled “Who am I”.

You can purchase a print for $20 (includes shipping) , email at info@robdontstop.com 

Sources: The T Word, Wikipedia

Black is Beautiful – Postcard set 1

Black history month – Postcard set by Robert Liu-Trujillo
This is a set of postcards featuring three Black women from a series of Black history month. The subjects I chose are not who are typically talked about during the month and that is intentional. I hope with my series of illustrations, I can be one of many artists expanding the consciousness of Black lives and the Black experience. We all love Rosa, Malcolm, and Martin, but there are so many more people we should know. These women are:

Betty Reid Soskin- Oldest African American park ranger 

Memphis Minnie- Pioneering blues musician

Edna Lewis- Ground breaking chef

Black is Beautiful (2018) 6 – J Dilla

The first record I purchased that had Jaydee’s name on it was a remix of “Woo ha” by Busta Rhymes. I thought that beat was amazing. The 2nd time was a beat he did for Phat Kat’s “don’t nobody care about us” that Harley (drummer for Wild Hunt) had. I played it over and over again. Then tribe LP. Then the Slum Village stuff, then it felt solidified that this guy was one of my favorite producers. I’m not gonna do the whole bio today, go look it up. But for you young musicians, this guy truly studied, made art w/ the likes of D’Angelo, Q Tip, Blackstar, Pharcyde, De La Soul, Janet Jackson, The Roots, Common, Erykah Badu, Madlib, Elzhi, Amo Fiddler, too many to name and his sound lives on through so many musicians today. Dilla! 1974-2006! I remember the day he passed. RIP.

You can purchase a print for $20 (includes shipping) , email at info@robdontstop.com  -a portion will go to Ma Dukes

Sources: Music, lots of music

Black is Beautiful (2018) 4 – Master Ron Van Clief

Ron is a world renowned martial artist from New York. He began training at 15 yrs old w/ Moses Powell (Jui Jitsu), and would go on to train with many other forms including wing chin w/ Leung Ting. Ron competed until the age of 65 and was 5x world champion winner participating in at least 900 tournaments. He was a marine who faced extreme racism. He moved to Hong Kong and became the first African American to star in martial arts films there. Internationally Ban Clief was in 100 films, he earned a phd in theology, developed a style called Chinese Goju, and he trained other such as Taimak (Last Dragon). He still trains today and was one of the oldest fighters to compete in the UFC. 

You can purchase a print for $20 (includes shipping) , email at info@robdontstop.com 

Sources: JetLi.com, UCCN tv, The Black Kung Fu Experience

Black is Beautiful (2018) 3 – Roxanne Shanté

Born in 1969 Roxanne Shanté is a pioneering MC in the art of MCing and hip hop. Roxanne was a part of the legendary Juice Crew helmed by Marley Marl. She grew up in Queensbridge projects which was one of the largest housing projects in the US. She started recording at the age of 14 but had been rhyming and battling for awhile before. After she recorded a diss response to the group UTFO’s “Roxaxanne Roxanne” she blew up and started the “Roxanne” wars which resulted in countless songs dissing her or adding to the feud. Shanté would record three albums, tour, perform, and influence countless kids as a lyricist and as a bold woman. She not only rhymed about her skill but about serious issues such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. Transition. She leaves hip hop. And she goes back to school. By this time, she had been a teen mom, dropped out of school, and wanted to better herself. She worked out a deal so her record company paid for her education and became Dr. Shanté! She began investing her money in property, and youth. She is now a big advocate for health in general and girls specifically, encouraging thousand sof young women to get their education.  And this past year a feature film about her life was just finished and premiered at the Sundance film festival.
Did you catch the painting of Sha Rock?
Did you see the Netflix film about her life?

Sources: Vice news, Hudson Union Society, Wikipedia

Here are some process shots. 

Black is Beautiful (2018) 1 – Ann Wolfe

Its 2018 and its February, that means its time for “Black History Month” and this series I started two years ago called “Black is Beautiful” celebrating known and lesser known people and places in Black culture.

This right here is Ann Wolfe. She is a world class fighter from Louisiana. With one of the hardest punches in boxing she was the first woman to win 4 world titles in boxing in 4 separate weight classes. Wolfe had an extremely hard up bringing. She lost both parents as a teen, was molested, faced homelessness, and was trying her best to make it as a single parent. She was inspired by seeing fighters in tv and got Pops Billingsley from Austin Tx to train her. Pop, would mold her already aggressive fighting style into champion winning punches. Wolfe started boxing in the mid 90’s and retired in 2016. She was cast as the amazon warrior Artemis in last year’s film Wonder Woman and went on to build on the legacy her trainer Pops built by teaching young fighters who had lost their way or had as much anger as she did as a young woman. Wolfe is a proud gay woman and the mother to three kids.

Sources: HBO, The Ringer, Wonder Woman