A Brief History of AfriCOBRA
The AfriCOBRA movement was borne from the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. The collective was founded in 1968 by Chicago based artists: Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams. The founding members had been previously associated with The Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), which was founded in 1962, and most notable for the famous Wall of Respect mural in Chicago.
The Founding of AfriCOBRA
The philosophical mission of AfriCOBRA was to create images committed to a sublime expression of the African diaspora that would be identified by and reflected on by all black people. AfriCOBRA’s goal was to unite all members of the African Diaspora–they wanted to eliminate the western idea of the self and embrace the progress of the community. The founding members wanted to honor the past, contextualize the present, and prepare for a bright future. To this end, they created a mission statement and tenets that became a manifesto, written by Jeff Donaldson. The artists believed that through collective consciousness their art and objects would propel social and political change in their communities. The aesthetic principles of AfriCOBRA adhered to the ideals of “bright colors, the human figure, lost and found line, lettering, and images which identified the social, economic and political conditions of our ethnic group.” They wanted to embrace “specific visual qualities intrinsic to our ethnic group.”
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