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Allan Rohan Crite was a notable artist who sought to depict Black people as ordinary American citizens instead of sharecroppers or entertainers. Today is Crite’s birthday.

Crite was born in 1910 in Plainfield, N.J. and raised in Boston’s South End. He developed an interest in art early on by way of his mother, and his father, a doctor and engineer, was also a great influence. Crite was accepted to Yale University but opted instead to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.

After leaving school in 1936, Crite became one of a handful of African-American artists employed by the Federal Arts Project under the New Deal. In 1940, he began a 30-year career as an engineering draftsman but continued to work on his art in the meantime. Crite focused on pieces that showed Black people of all ages in various settings. In an interview, Crite stated that he wanted to show the “real Negro” and not the “Jazz Negro” or “Harlem Negro,” which he felt were images promoted solely by white people.

Along with an honorary doctorate from Suffolk University and was bestowed with the Harvard University Anniversary Medal. Several of his works hang in the Smithsonian in Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Art Institute of Chicago among other places. Crite never married and didn’t have any children according to reports.

Allan Rohan Crite passed in 2007 at the age of 97.


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