Today Lawrence's work can be found in almost two hundred museum collections. His numerous awards include the National Medal of Arts, the NAACP's prestigious Spingarn Medal, three Julius Rosenwald Fund Fellowships, and more than two dozen honorary degrees. In 1983 Jacob Lawrence was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest honor in the humanities in the United States. He was also a member of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design.
In 1977 Jacob Lawrence described his work as a continuation, referring to his life's work as constantly growing and building. Like Harriet Tubman, whom he portrayed crossing the American-Canadian border in his painting Over the Line (1967), Lawrence was able to transcend racial barriers and find common ground among all Americans. Lawrence died on June 9, 2000 at the age of eighty-two.
To view a chronology of Jacob Lawrence's life and work, visit
©2002 Whitney Museum of American Art