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Interview with Harvey Johnson, conducted by Sarah C. Reynolds.

Eyes opened

I was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1947 and so I was there during the 50s. I grew up in a family of four—a small family—and my mother raised us. We were poor but didn’t know we were poor because of the warmth and attention and love that Mama provided for us. But it was a struggle for African people. During that time we lived on the west side of the railroad tracks, and Caucasian people lived on the east side of the railroad tracks. We had no idea of discrimination or anything like that because Mama never said anything to us about it. Black and white, green, yellow, whatever. We were just poor, and trying to survive.

We were very innocent, like I said. We didn’t know. When I rode the bus downtown, Mama would walk to the back with us. We didn’t question it, you know. Or when we went to the water fountains, we drank out of the colored water fountains. We didn’t question it because she never did say anything about it. So we thought that was supposed to be…until Willie Moore.

Willie was my teacher at Lincoln High School in Port Arthur. I took art class from Willie in the tenth grade; I would go to his house often—every day—he and Anne. Seemed like they were doing art 24/7, you know. He introduced me for the first time to two very significant people: James Baldwin and John Biggers. From then on, that’s when racism became a reality for me. That’s when I woke up from being a child, mentally and emotionally. He introduced me to John, and he showed me a book by Cedric Dover, American Negro Art.

American Negro Art, Cedric Dover. Greenwich CT: New York Graphic Society, 1960.
John was in that publication with his mural he did at the YMCA in Third Ward on McGowan Street for his doctorate degree, and it moved me. It moved me because I saw a relationship between what I was looking at and the way I was living.

It was good for Mama to protect us, especially the male children, because the male children were the ones most threatened—and she did not want our lives to be cut short or changed by racism. So that’s why she didn’t say anything to us about that. But Willie blew the lid off it. It wasn’t really a conversation. It was things unveiling before your eyes every week or every month through his own work.

All god's chillun got wings

By Harvey Johnson, 2003. courtesy of the artist.

A means to an end

I saw art as a means to an end because during that time, black kids were supposed to be teachers for the most part; to aspire to being a teacher, nothing beyond that. I wanted something different, and I wanted to express who I am as a black man. I started researching and questioning what I was reading, what I was being taught in school. The images I saw were not images of me. They were images of others, which is all well and good—don’t get me wrong. But where was I? That was the question.

My mother, Anna Bell Thornton—maiden name Pitre—she was so influential. The love she expressed…she actually taught me through her own ways my African culture. She taught this through spirituals because spirituals were sophisticated explanations of scientific laws that help us understand the ordering of the universe and the ever-evolving cycles of life. This is the way she exposed us. It did not matter whether we were intellectually sophisticated [enough] to understand it; through her own expressions of love which involved not just providing for us food, clothing and shelter but transmitting values to us, [she transmitted]values that I found out later on were parallel to African values that certainly were universal. That to me was—it blew my mind.

Questions & Answers

do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Houston reflections: art in the city, 1950s, 60s and 70s. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10526/1.2
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