Autograph Letter Signed. Farmington, Mass. Jan. 5, 1928. To Marion C. Deane, a white Canadian woman who worked at the historically-Black Hampton Institute
Some twenty years before Rosa Parks, the most famous African-American sculptress of the Harlem Renaissance era, relates a poignant incident of a racist woman she encountered on a Boston-area bus.
“…whatever of strength or character I possess has gone into my efforts as an artist - be that much or little – and life…Your reference to the southerners regard, or rather disregard of the Negro. I experienced a rather amusing incident a few weeks ago. I was on my way home after a few errands down town and laden with the usual packages, bundles and such I was taking the ‘bus’ and while fishing for my ticket I noticed a youngish sort of woman talking about travelling. Contrary to custom, and having succeeded in finding my ticket, I took a seat at the extreme end of the bus, it being filled up in the front. I could still hear the conversation – she spoke of how strange it seemed to see colored people mingling with white people in schools, restaurants and the like. She would go out if one sat down at a table with her – it didn’t seem right. It all impressed me as very funny and mischief got the better of me. I wrote in a slip of paper ‘God made man of one flesh’. I rolled it up and as I passed on my way out, dropped it in her lap. I was convulsed at the expression of surprise when she saw what I had done, but I left the car before she had time to read it. I have not since seen the woman with whom she was talking but I am curious to know what she did after reading it…”
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was one of the most significant Black artists of her generation. Born in Philadelphia, after studying with Rodin in Paris, she returned to America to settle near Boston, where her husband was one of the first Black psychiatrists in the US. A lifelong friend of W.E.B.DuBois, her works were “Afrocentric” and included her sculpture of Mary Turner, a young pregnant Black woman who was lynched in Georgia during World War I, A voluminous archive of Meta Fuller’s papers are held by the New York Public Library; her lettera rarely appear outside of institutional collections.