By: Diamond Wilcoxson Gass
On Monday, August 21st - Americans will be graced by the presence of its first total eclipse of the sun in over 38 years. The last solar eclipse visible in the Contiguous United States happened on February 26, 1979, and as we all prepare to experience this phenomenon in its rarity - let's take a look back to 1979, the year of the last total eclipse of the sun, yes - but also the year of many important and influential moments in African American popular culture and art.
The 1970’s were known as the beginning of the Post - Civil Rights Movement, and by 1979 Black Americans were expressing themselves and their culture abundantly through the arts. Check out Black Art in America’s list of 10 memorable moments in African American Arts and Popular Culture.
Before we jump into the list- Black Art in America is having a Total Eclipse of the Sun - Flashback to 1979 Collection SALE! We are offering $19.79 off select Garden Art for the Soul and huge savings on original art and limited editions in the collection. You can shop this collection and more at www.shopbaia.com. Now, lets get into the list.
10. On February 2nd, 1979 African- American painter, illustrator and visual arts educator Aaron Douglas passed away at the age of 79. Aaron Douglas is known as a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the “New Negro Movement” - this movement was considered to be a rebirth of African-American art. The art world lost another master artist that year as well -Charles Wilbert White one of America's most renowned and recognized African-American artist died on October 3, 1979 at the age of 61.
9. At the young age of 22, Spike Lee Directed his first short film “Last Hustle in Brooklyn” and it was released on April 14th, 1979 - the first of many legendary “Spike Lee Joints”.
8. 1979 was the year of the first Black Video Game Character, and this character appeared on the Atari 800 Home Computer game, Basketball.
7. The essence of Black Joy of television, Soul Train airs episode featuring live performances by Aretha Franklin & Smokey Robinson- they perform their hit release in 1979, “Ooh Baby Baby”. Soul Train is a must mention when referencing black culture in the 1970’s.
6. Michael Jackson’s fifth studio album, “Off the Wall” was released on August 10th, 1979. This album houses many of the celebrated hit songs that lie in The King of Pop’s legacy, such as, “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop til You Get Enough”.
5. Maya Angelou, African -American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist adapts her critically acclaimed novel “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” for its television movie premiere of the same name - 28 April, 1979.
4. 1979 is the year that the iconic Coca Cola Ad featuring “Mean” Joe Greene - former NFL Defensemen for Pittsburgh Steelers was released for Super Bowl XIII. The 60 second commercial shows a young fan offering Green a Coca-Cola after spotting him leaving the football field, seemingly injured. Joe Green proceeds with finishing the cola in one gulp, and gifts the kid with his sweaty post game jersey. Looks like he wasn't so “mean” after all.
3. Lois Alexander, an African American fashion designer, founded the Harlem Fashion Institute and Black Fashion Museum in 1979.
2. On August 1, 1979 CBS aired the series finale Good Times, the hit Afro-American television sitcom depicting the strength of family in the midst of hard times. The last episode was entitled “The End of the Rainbow”, and was the 21st episode of the sixth and final season.
1. Rap legends The Sugarhill Gang released their hit record, “ Rapper’s Delight” becoming the first hip hop song to become a Top 40 Hit on the Billboard Hot 100. This recordings will be recalled as the formal birth of the hip-hop movement.
1979 was a year of many pivotal moments for black culture- loss, influence, representation & expression, ends & beginnings. These crucial events helped shape the year 1979 as the eclipse did- and stands in the capsule of time as significant fragments of the past.
How do you like our list? Would you have added anything - Any honorable mentions? Let us know & Don’t forget to take advantage of our Total Eclipse of the Sun - Flashback to 1979 Collection SALE. Our sale runs Monday, August 21 --Sunday, August 27th. We are offering $19.79 off Garden Art for the Soul and huge savings on original art and limited editions. Shop the collection at www.shopbaia.com and save!
Saving so big we can only show you a glimpse.
Enjoy the Eclipse!