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VIRTUAL: Black History is Washington History with the Washington State History Museum

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One of a series of lectures about Black History in Washington.

In 1972, the State of Washington invited artist Jacob Lawrence to create a work of significance about a central figure in Black history in Washington. He chose to paint five panels in gouache on paper representing a historical narrative about settler George Bush, a Black pioneer who, in1844, co-founded the first permanent settlement in what is now Tumwater, Washington after migrating from Missouri to escape the racism of the region.

Jacob Lawrence was an internationally renowned painter who lived in Seattle and taught as an art professor at the University of Washington. Lawrence was also a member of the Washington State Arts Commission and was one of the first Black visual artists to focus on African American history as the subject matter of his art. The five-part work he created for this commission is highly regarded, and we are honored that it is part of the Washington State Historical Society’s collection.

The WSHS also holds in its collections items from the late 1800s and early1900s that belonged to the Bush family, along with photographs and negatives showing Bush family members, as well as letters and documents related to the work of George Bush (junior) as the state’s first Black legislator towards land ownership for Black settlers.

Join us for a program about the rich and detailed paintings that comprise Lawrence’s work and the historical objects that help us understand the Bush legacy. Learn about the contributions of both of these men to Washington’s history.

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