I represented the unsung hero L. Alex Wilson. I was first drawn to Sheyann Webb who was a young freedom fighter, but I kept looking before I committed to her. I read various other stories that were very interesting and inspiring. Then I came to L. Alex Wilson’s story. It intrigued me because it opened my eyes up to the fact that there were and are so many people fighting for not only their own, but others rights that go unnoticed.
I chose him because I think that there are very few people that could’ve done what he did. He resisted the violence and threatens that were aimed at him and kept his head held high. He was a writer for The Chicago Defender. He wrote stories about the Civil Rights Movement and the horrible discrimination that African Americans were facing at that time. One story that he wrote about was Little Rock Nine. When he went to the school as the students were entering, he was thrown bricks at and pushed to the ground by white protesters. The 6’3” man was being pushed around, but he didn’t care. When he fell down after being kicked, he got right back up and didn’t fight back.
In my painting, I decided to have it shown as a newspaper page because that is what he wrote for and used to raise awareness about the issues happening in the south. I included four images as well. One is a portrait of him. I decided to include this because there is a picture of him and because I wanted the newspaper page to look more focused on him than the issues he wrote about. This portrait of him was based off of a picture that was taken and put in the newspaper. The next picture was of the Little Rock School the day that the Little Rock Nine arrived. There were many other people around but I chose to show nine people because I wanted to show that it was Little Rock Nine without coming right out and saying it on the newspaper. The last picture is of the day that L. Alex Wilson went to Little Rock School to see the nine African American students enter the school to report on it. There were many protesters there to protest this change in southern history. The men there were very violent towards Wilson and kicked him and threw bricks, too. Then I included pieces of his quote to show his message more. I really liked the sentence that says, “I am not bitter.” I think that it really portrays his message in a very summed up way. I also included, “justice and fair-play will triumph” and a longer quote about him not running from the protesters and show peace. I think that these quotes are crucial in my painting because it gives the viewer more of an idea of what Wilson was all about. I also included pieces of newspaper because I wanted the viewer to understand that it is a newspaper page. To do that, I also chose to paint in the The Chicago Defender at the top.This project has really informed me that there are so many people who do amazing things for others, and are not recognized for it. There is the exception of someone not wanting to be recognized, but they aren’t any less important. The first step of picking someone out to paint was very intriguing to see all the people that were searched for or have just come across on randomly. W. Alex Wilson wasn’t looking to be noticed or praised for his work. He just wanted to get his message out and show to the rest of the world what was happening in the segregated south. I really appreciate having done this project because of all the ways that it has taught me about unsung heroes and painting.