“When I first started at Howard University, I was very frivolous and social-minded. I was in design. I was going to be a commercial artist and make a lot of money. I learned from James Porter the seriousness of being an artist. He taught me that you have to discipline yourself.
Then when I went to the University of Iowa, Grant Wood taught me that you should work with what you know the most about. That’s what he did. He painted Iowa, which is what he knew the most about.
I was working always with the black theme. I did a whole series on black women. Nobody was doing black women. I am a black woman. That’s what I know the most about.
The chairman of the art department at Iowa asked what degree I wanted to apply for. I said, ‘I want a Master of Fine Arts.’ He said, ‘Nobody has ever gotten a Master of Fine Arts, and you can’t be the first one. So I would suggest you apply for the Master of Arts.’ And I said, ‘Why can’t I be the first on?’ He said, ‘Because you’re a woman,’ and he didn’t add the other part, but I could see he was thinking it.
After the oral examination, they asked me to wait outside. I could hear voices raised. Finally they opened the door and congratulated me because I was going to get the Master of Fine Arts degree. The other students were very happy for me and they said, ‘Now you’ve opened it up.’
Dr. William DuBois once told me, ‘Never take a step backward or you never stop running.’ I never forgot it”
Elizabeth Catlett, I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America
Never Stop Running
Never stop running sister,
you do not run for not
Keep pressing for it,
like you know it belongs to you
Never stop running
with truth, determination and power in each step
cry your tears
slow your pace when you need to
turn on some tunes and let the song
beats, rhythms and words move you on
even laugh if you must
never stop running
you will get there
we will get there
never stop running