LaNitra Walker

LaNitra Walker is a doctoral candidate in art history at Duke University.

Recent Articles

The Art of Social Justice

A new exhibition of the art of Harlem Renaissance-era painter Aaron Douglas shows his commitment to using his work to promote economic and racial equality.

In a 1925 letter to his future wife, Alta Sawyer, Aaron Douglas writes, "At my present rate of progress, I'll be a giant in two years. A veritable black terror. They (White America) believe that a black artist is impossible." The exhibition, Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist , (on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through Aug. 3 and from Aug. 30 to Nov. 30 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), proves that black art is not only possible but that understanding it is crucial to understanding American history. In addition to being a gifted artist, Douglas was also a masterful storyteller. The exhibition places his work in the context of the turbulent period of racial and social upheaval in the United States and situates him within the larger framework of how race and race relations influenced modern art in America. Douglas was ahead of his time, both in his embrace of black history as American history and as a modernist whose art embodied social-...

Remembering Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating and costly natural disasters ever in the United States. It left 80 percent of New Orleans under water. In his new book, historian Douglas Brinkley uses oral histories from Katrina survivors and rescuers and Gulf Coast residents to record the dramatic events that occurred during the eight days after the hurricane made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2005. Your book is written as an oral history of Katrina. What do you hope that future historians will gain from your research? It's written to do a couple of things. One is to use oral history testimony of people. In fact, I wrote the book in the past tense, and I don't get into anything past those eight days of the rebuilding of New Orleans. I'm looking at specifically those eight days. And then, what I'm trying to do with Tulane's oral history project is to collect as many voices of Katrina as quickly as we can. Many Americans outside of New Orleans wondered why people didn't evacuate...

Black and White

New York Times reporter Lynette Clemetson has added a new dimension to the “mommy wars” by describing the differences between black and white women's views on balancing work and family. Her recent Times article demonstrates how historical grievances between black and white women persist and continue to poison women's perceptions of each other. “We don't generally have the time or luxury for the guilt and competition that some white mothers engage in,” said one black woman. While some affluent white women worry that they didn't make their children's cupcakes from scratch, they argued, black women are preoccupied with what one woman described as the “kink coefficient,” or the extra time needed to groom black children's hair. These are some of the more superficial issues that women must confront, but it is clear that black and white women disagree on more important family decisions as well. Many of the black women interviewed by the Clemetson saw their pursuit of a career as setting an...

Pushed Into a Corner

In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot by a sniper's bullet while standing in his kitchen in Amherst, New York, a quiet suburb of Buffalo. Dr. Slepian was one of only a few doctors who performed abortions in Buffalo. The man who killed him, James Kopp, was an anti-abortion activist known for his religious fundamentalism and his radical views. Journalist Eyal Press, whose Israeli-born father is also an abortion provider in Buffalo, decided to return to his hometown to find out how the city landed in the center of the emotional and violent national debate about abortion. His book, Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America (Henry Holt, February 2006), is a gripping and elegantly written combination of memoir, history, and social commentary on one of the most divisive issues in America. Why did you decide to approach the issue of abortion as a memoir and as a history of Buffalo? I had never written about abortion prior to this book, and I really didn't...

Pushed Into a Corner

In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot by a sniper's bullet while standing in his kitchen in Amherst, New York, a quiet suburb of Buffalo. Dr. Slepian was one of only a few doctors who performed abortions in Buffalo. The man who killed him, James Kopp, was an anti-abortion activist known for his religious fundamentalism and his radical views. Journalist Eyal Press, whose Israeli-born father is also an abortion provider in Buffalo, decided to return to his hometown to find out how the city landed in the center of the emotional and violent national debate about abortion. His book, Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America (Henry Holt, February 2006), is a gripping and elegantly written combination of memoir, history, and social commentary on one of the most divisive issues in America. Why did you decide to approach the issue of abortion as a memoir and as a history of Buffalo? I had never written about abortion prior to this book, and I really didn't...

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