Friday, July 25, 2008

Remembering Jim Beckwourth

The Puryear sculpture exhibition at the National Gallery of Art discussed below displayed a large mixed-media tributed to Jim Beckwourth. I Googled him, so found out that he was a legend in his own time. Here's what Wikipedia had to say:
James Pierson Beckwourth (April 6, 1798 or 1800, Frederick County, Virginia - October 29, 1866, Denver) (a.k.a. Jim Beckworth, James P. Beckwith) was born in Virginia in 1798 to Sir Jennings Beckwith, a descendant of Irish and English nobility, and an African-American mulatto woman about whom little is known.

His life is best known from the book The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth from 1856, which was rejected by early historians of the Old West as being ridiculous campfire lore, but has been rehabilitated since as not reliable in details, but a valuable source of social history. The civil rights movement discovered Beckwourth as an early afro-american pioneer and he is subsequently named a role model in children's literature and textbooks.