Up you mighty people, you can what you will! Elma Lewis And Her School of Fine Arts
White-Hope, Sonya Renee
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Elma Lewis, founder of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, National Center of Afro-American Artists, and Museum of the National Center of Artists, was the subject of this historical case study. Focused attention was directed at Lewis’ philosophy, her School of Fine Arts, and her use of arts education as a tool for achieving racial pride and equity for mid-century Black Bostonians. Objectives of this study included recording Lewis’ philosophy and its relationship to Garveyism as well as cataloguing the means by which Lewis’ ideals advanced African Americans in their pursuit of racial pride and equity. Data for the study was assembled from primary and secondary sources. Primary source materials preserved in the archives of Elma Lewis, her School of Fine Arts (ELSFA), the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), and the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (MNCAAA) were mined for relevant data as were third party interviews and the NCAAA website. Interviews of former ELSFA faculty, students, parents, and community members conducted by this researcher breathed renewed life into dormant archival materials while simultaneously triangulating all data. Findings identify Lewis’ philosophy of arts education as cultural emancipation (AECE) as an artistic relative of Garveyism and related yet distinct from music education philosophies centering aesthetic education and participatory action. Recommendations for future research identify topics within music/arts education’s burgeoning domain of African American arts education.