A little over mid-way through this book I stopped reading it, not wanting to carry the burden of sadness caused my imaging the details of what it must have been like for Delaney struggling with the sexuality, the poverty, the self survival tactics, the living conditions, poor healthcare, etc. I kinda felt like the character May, in the Secret Life of Bees, who grieved the pain of others. With just a few chapters left to read, I picked it back up this past week (way overdue from the library) and finished it. His story expanded my heart and it was somewhat painful…grieving him but also his life is such an iconic symbol for the struggle of being human today. Should I be thankful that the struggle continues or burdened that we have not surpassed the injustices that plagued Delaney so many decades ago?
But he had his art..a compelling passion for him and we all should accept the blessing of finding something as compelling in our own lives as he had. Many of his paintings were stolen and still yet to be found, but he was prolific and painted as if creating was his only requirement for subsistence.
It was only after learning that 30 years after his death, a proper tombstone was placed on his gravesite in Paris, France, that I found the strength to complete this biography. Biographies are so rare for African American artists still and there is only hope in the future that scholarship develops and flourishes enough to interject more of our lives and art onto the world’s view.
Here is a blog dedicated to preserving his memory: