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Afro Contemporary Art Class Continues with Social Distancing

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The ACAC program at the Portland Art Museum
Kids in the ACAC program at King Elementary enjoy a trip to the Portland Art Museum

The Afro Contemporary Art Class (ACAC) at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School began as an after school initiative that interweaves programming into and between public schools to cultivate confidence, expand the perspective of young people’s minds, and help close the opportunity gap for underrepresented and under-resourced communities of color. ACAC. Since then it has received significant recognition in the form of the Andries Deinum Prize for Visionaries and Provocateurs, the Arlene Schnitzer Visual Art Prize, and a college level iteration of the course at Portland State University–continues to evolve.

To this end, the 2020-2021 ACAC program for this year of remote learning at both the K-5 and college levels are forming, and could use your support!

One example of how the ACAC is adapting to distance learning is that, this year, at Dr. MLK Jr. School, the ACAC will be producing a newspaper, much like this one. The ACAC newspaper will be distributed to all students’ homes and used as a learning tool by their teachers throughout the year. This newspaper will be assembled in collaboration with teachers at the school, as well as Black artists paid to contribute their work.

Last year, the ACAC studied Emory Douglas, the director of the original Black Panther Newspaper during the 1960s and 70s, as well as the Black Panthers’ free breakfast program. As a way of deepening their understanding of the lessons taught in class through experiential learning, students in the 2019-20 ACAC cohort hosted their own version of the Black Panther Free Breakfast Program. The event included a guest appearance by Kent Ford and Percy Hampton, former Black Panthers and founders of the Breakfast Program here in Portland. This experience was a way of extending the content being explored in the ACAC to the entire school, as well as building community, something we hope to create this year for Dr. MLK Jr. School students through the creation of a newspaper made in collaboration with, for, and by their own community.

The Afro Contemporary Art Class is sustained by some small grants, however our primary source of support comes through individual contributions. Since the launch of our Patreon, the ACAC has been able to raise over $1,700 to pay Black artists to work with and for the young people at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School. The ACAC plans to expand to other schools, including Jefferson High School, the last historically Black high school in Portland.

To learn more and/or to contribute to the project in the amount of $5 or more, please visit:

www.patreon.com/afrocontemporaryartclass

Thank you for your support!