Item no. 10006
60x45cm (24x18in)
Collection: Bread & Roses
Painting by Jacob Lawrence, inspired by a quote from Mark Twain, from the Images of Labor poster series.

The quote reads:  "Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth, the valuable personages, the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat."

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was an important African American painter.  His work portrays the daily life of African Americans and their history.  Lawrence's paintings show busy street scenes, pool halls, bars, and men and women working and relaxing.  His work is not realistic, but it tells stories in a clear and lively way. 

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens, 1835 - 1910), was a humorist, a novelist and an astute social critic.  His letters and speeches revealed an intellect that touched a wide variety of social, economic and political issues. 

 On the issue of trade unionism, Twain made himself clear.  Angered by the growing monopolization of wealth and political power by railroad companies and factory owners, Twain defended the rights of workingmen to organize for the purpose of claiming the full reward of their labor.  In a speech to the Monday Evening Club of Hartford, Connecticut in 1886, Twain reaffirmed the rights of organizations such as the Knights of labor to exist as representatives  of workingmen.

Image from the Images of Labor Collection, Bread and Roses, artist Jacob Lawrence.

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View other items in the thematic sets:


Black History Month 2011

Bread and Roses

Civil Rights Posters and Paintings