In 1963, tensions between black and white Americans grew feverish. Though the momentum of the Civil Rights movement peaked that summer with the March on Washington, racism remained at the core of American society. For many black residents of cities across the country, frustration over the stagnation, exclusion, and violence that racism wrought on their lives boiled over into rage—and in 1964, they began to riot.
Born and raised in Harlem, New York—one of the neighborhoods convulsed by the race riots—artist, writer, and educator Faith Ringgold was in her early thirties at the time, and focusing on painting landscapes. The daughter of culturally engaged parents, she had been making art since her childhood. Despite making their home in a neighborhood that had become the seat of black art and literature during the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century, and despite its location in one of America’s most progressive cities,