Crusaders in Art I welcomed Leona Tate to Brother Martin on Monday, Dec. 14 as part of their “Portraits of Social Justice” project carried out by Brother Martin’s young student artists and faculty members including Don Guidry and photographer Gus Bennett.
The project is based off of the art style of Chuck Close, where students learn about an artist and the seven themes of Social Justice. Along with the art portion of it, a discussion regarding needs of Social Justice in the community and in the world at large range from Civil Rights, the rights of the elderly, to protection of creation. Tate's visit to our Art I students was inspired by Jace Patin ‘22, who chose Ruby Bridges for his portrait. Just like Bridges, Tate also served a pivotal role in Civil Rights and Social Justice.
Jace Patin reflected on his experience… “For my Art I class, our teacher, Mr. Don Guidry, assigned a project titled “The Portraits of Social Justice.” As a class, our classmates were instructed to select a social activist that inspires us. The project consists of drawing a portrait of that person and conducting research on their fight for a change. I chose Ruby Bridges because she was the first black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. After some discussion about my project with Mr. Gus Bennett, he assisted me in getting Ms. Leona Tate, another person instrumental in the role of desegregation in New Orleans, to speak to the art class about her story. Ms. Tate was kind enough to share her vivid experience and to answer our questions. Ms. Tate, Ruby Bridges, and many other people of color are instrumental in my life today. Without them, my education at Brother Martin wouldn’t be possible without the knowledge of her past, present, and future endeavors in the education sector. I thank Ms. Tate for her courage as a child. Her work, along with many others, is conducive to creating opportunities for all black scholars.”
Tate was one of the first three African-American young women in November of 1960 to desegregate McDonogh 19 Elementary School in the Lower 9th Ward. McDonogh 19 was formerly an all-white school in New Orleans along with many other schools in the surrounding area. Tate graciously addressed the students regarding her experience on her first day of school and how she has diligently devoted her time to Civil Rights since her formative years facing adversity in school.
“The reason the project is centered around Social Justice is that I want the students to understand the needs of the world around them, what others have done or are doing, and for them to begin to think about what they can do to carry out these seven principles of Social Justice. I hope they realize that their lives are not only about themselves, but how to use their gifts and talents to assist others. I want them to grow in the virtues of justice, prudence, and fortitude so they can stand up for themselves, others, and creation,” relayed Art I instructor Don Guidry.
Upon completion of the project, students will present their finished portraits and biographies to their classmates as well as provide what they have done or will continue to strive for educating and bringing a positive change to the community.
Thank you to Leona Tate for sharing her experience with our students while they learn to “meet the needs of a changing world!”