Jacob Lawrence was born on September 7, 1917, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Originally from South Carolina and Virginia, the Lawrence family, like thousands of black migrants, had hoped to find more promising economic opportunities in the North. By 1919 his family moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. In 1924, after Lawrence’s parents separated, his mother moved the family to Philadelphia, where she left the children in foster care while she worked in Harlem, New York. At the age of thirteen, Jacob Lawrence arrived in Harlem.
was almost impossible for black Americans to attend the regular art academies,
the art schools and workshops of Harlem provided crucial training for the
majority of black artists in the United States. Lawrence was one of the
first artists trained in and by the African-American community in Harlem.
Lawrence received his earliest art instruction from
©2002 Whitney Museum of American Art