This past September, the Romare Bearden Foundation honored Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. along with Nobel laureate Derek Walcott for their contributions and commitment to the literary and artistic canon.
Specifically, Gates, who is also the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, was honored for “Colored People: A Memoir,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” and “Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own,” his most recent work. Meanwhile, Walcott, a prolific poet and playwright and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature, was cited for his works “In a Green Night,” “Omeros,” “The Odyssey: A Stage Version,” and his latest collection, “Selected Poems.”
Best-known for his inventive use of collage to depict the poignancy of African-American life, Romare Bearden (1911-88) has become one of the most respected artists of the 20th century. In 1987, Bearden received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan, and his work has been exhibited at many major art institutions including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Metropolitan Art, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Both Gates and Walcott received prints of Bearden’s 1978 piece titled “Early Carolina Morning” at the New York ceremony. Glenn H. Hutchins A.B. ’77, M.B.A. ’83, J.D. ’84 presented Gates with the print, while poet Stephanos Papadopoulos introduced and feted Walcott.
Proceeds from the celebration to honor Gates and Walcott have been earmarked for youth arts education and the artistic and professional development of aspiring African-American artists. Since its establishment in 1990, the Romare Bearden Foundation has preserved the legacy of Bearden through its support of exhibitions, scholarly publications, and educational programs.