Doctor John Biggers painted this mural as a tribute to the sprit of the African American Woman. She has not only organized the family but has had to lead in the struggles to build society in which that but natural that those should first be known who were interested in the struggle for freedom." Notable were Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. It was impossible for anyone to carry on the tradition of such distinctive characters as these; and more recent years have brought forward women who realized the value of training and culture." Others who have followed to mention a few are Lucy Laney, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Mary McLeod Bethune, Maudell Brown Bousefield and Maggie L. Walker
No attempt has been made to show every character in the mural, but to symbolize through two main characters the sociological, historical and educational contributions of Negro woman to American life and Education. The right side represents slavery out of which Harriet Tubman leads people, symbolized by the Torch of Freedom pushing over the column, symbol of dominant society which is supported by man's labor. Left of the column, the Tree of Life, also supported by man's labor embraces the balance of the mural depicting progress in education, science, music and healthful living with Sojourner Truth as the Pioneer Teacher. The search for knowledge in a free society
becomes available to the old and young, men and women, as symbolized by the old man reading the lamp.
The contribution of a third woman Phillis Wheatly appears in the book being read by the mother with the child. All of that embraced by the Tree of Life is in contrast to the hopelessness expressed in the figures at the far Right. The church on each side symbolizes the spiritual background of our society. One is also aware of the matriarchal influence of the family as well as the Madonna theme apparent on both sides.
The Artist, Dr John Biggers painted this as a requirement for his Doctorate Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Paints used are believed by the manufactures to be of the composition of those used by Micheal Angelo.
Dr Biggers was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, in 1924. He studied at Hampton University, Pennsylvania State College and the University of Southern California. He was awarded four purchase prizes prior to the painting of this mural which is his fifth production.
Dr. Biggers was appointed head of the Art Department at Texas Southern University in 1949, where more of his works are displayed.