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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Sargent Claude Johnson



Sargent Claude Johnson
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.99

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    artistry, gesso, ogden, philanthropist, sculptress, importance, lasting, redwood, racial, solely, busts, legacy, based, burro, perpetual, artistic
     content words:    Sargent Claude Johnson, Harlem Renaissance, Claude Johnson, Native American, Native Americans, African- American, May Howard Johnson, Washington D. C., Because California, Best School


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Sargent Claude Johnson
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Some artists feel the importance of color, not only in their life, but also in their work. Sargent Claude Johnson was an important painter in the Harlem Renaissance movement who felt that color expressed the joy and pride he felt in his heritage. He said, "I am concerned with color, not solely as a technical problem, but also as a means of heightening the racial character of my work. The Negroes are a colorful race; they call for an art as colorful as they can be made."
 
2     Sargent Claude Johnson was born on October 7, 1888. His family faced many challenges. His mother was black and Native American, while his father was white. Mixed families were not accepted at that time. Some of Sargent's brothers and sisters looked like Native Americans. Others looked white. Sargent chose to live his life as an African- American. Unfortunately, both of his parents passed on while Sargent was young. His father died in 1897. His mother died in 1902. The children then went to live with their mother's brother.
 
3     Sargent may have first become interested in sculpture because his aunt was a sculptress. Her name was May Howard Johnson, and she became famous for her portraits of African-Americans. She had a studio in Washington D.C. Later, Sargent had some of his work in the same exhibitions as his aunt.
 
4     Sargent and his brothers and sisters soon moved again. They went to Alexandria, Virginia, to live with their black grandparents. Then, the girls went to a Catholic school in Pennsylvania, while Sargent and his brothers attended public school. Sargent saw his sisters for the last time in 1902. Even if your own sisters or brothers annoy you sometimes, imagine how hard it would be if you had to move away from them and never see them again. Sargent had many challenges growing up, but he still worked hard to achieve his goals.
 
5     Sargent studied hard in spite of many emotional upheavals. He learned mechanical drawing. He also went to night school to attend art classes. He knew that he loved art, so he found ways to do as much art as he could. He did work for the Sisters of Charity and for their hospital, St. Vincent's. Because California had a thriving art movement, Sargent decided to move west in order to pursue his artistic career.

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