Local Artist Reflects On Black History Month

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

Leon Collins has seen a lot of things in his lifetime and he's also learned a lot of things.

A craftsman by trade, Leon and his daughter Molly Bee are gaining national attention for their art. Art that depicts their family history as well as African American history.

But Collins doesn't dwell on slavery, he looks at it as the journey of his ancestors..

"We've got to come from somewhere to get where we are going. You don't just wind up where you're going. You have to come from somewhere, you have to make the struggle. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk to get where you want to get going. But it's where you can get to with your own faith. You can make it." said Collins.

A native Texan, Leon spent time in New York and California during his life and it was there he saw the harshest amount of racism.
He says our past here in the south has helped our race relations in the long run.

"People in the country, they had to be around each other in a close net situation all the time. They worked together. Black people chopped cotton, white people chopped cotton, right there together. It was a way of life." said Collins.

And it's that way of life that's translated into Collin's paintings. A piece of the past that wasn't just reserved for his ancestors but anyone who wanted the best for their family.

"A lot of people look at my paintings and say, wow, those black folks had a hard time chopping cotton. They did. But the white people had a hard time too, some because that's how they made their living too." said Collins.

It's these lessons of togetherness that Leon carries on in life and during this meaningful month.

"Black History Month means to me what it has always meant to me. Our people moving forward. But also moving forward with white people, Spanish people, the whole world. Moving forward together. That's what it means to me." said Collins.

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