The U.S. Postal Service Black History Month Stamp featured a powerful portrait of acclaimed judge Constance Baker Motley, painted by Martha’s Vineyard artist Charly Palmer.
A Black Female Pioneer
Constance Baker Motley worked for 20 years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund before becoming the first African American woman in the state senate and the first female president of the Manhattan borough. In 1966, Motley was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by then-president Lyndon B. Johnson, where she acted as the chief judge and then, in 1986, the senior judge.
The Acclaimed Artist
According to artist Charly Palmer, he had no intention of earning this distinction. His bold, reverent, and dynamic painted portraits of Black women, men, and children caught the eye of the U.S. Postal Service and called him for collaboration. His painting of Constance Baker Motley is framed with his signature addition of flowers, which he’s incorporated in his spirited work to honor his late mother. The judge’s portrait was unveiled at the Constance Baker Motley Recreation Center in New York City.
The Oak Bluffs Library also showcases Palmer’s exemplary art in their Black History Month Exhibit. The artist and his wife, Karida Brown, travel to the Vineyard from Atlanta when they need to tap into their creative side. Together, the couple released an anthology titled The New Brownies’ Book: A Love Letter to Black Families, containing early works of Black artists and writers, such as Langston Hughes. In addition to his art, Charly Palmer authored a children’s book, The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale, illustrated multiple other children’s literature, and has recently concluded work on two others.
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