“Any man should be regarded as the personification of the ‘Black is beautiful’ philosophy, that man is Tom Feelings.  Feelings spent a lifetime as a painter, sculptor, and book illustrator underscoring this message.  From the dawn of the U.S. civil rights era, when he came of age as an artist, Feelings was passionately committed to the mission of encouraging Black children to understand their own spiritual and physical beauty.  Feelings remained faithful to that mission for more than 40 years.”

~ Biography of Tom Feelings at JRank

On May 19, 1933, a baby boy was born to Anna Morris and Samuel Feelings in New York City, New York.  Named Thomas, he would be called “Tom” and was reared in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community of the Brooklyn borough.  At only four years old, Tom began actively drawing, selecting to copy characters from newspaper comic strips that he enjoyed.  The drawings were completed on the blank pages of a book that Tom’s mother had sewn together.

Within the next several years, he learned of and was then taught drawing by James Thipadeaux, an African-American art teacher who worked within the local branch of the Police Athletic Academy.  From Thipadeaux, Feelings learned to be disciplined in expanding his abilities to develop his own subjects.  These were inspired by real life people, such as his mother, an aunt and other children, who Tom encountered. 

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