Women Builders

Women Builders celebrates the contributions of Black women. Johnson borrowed the title and the women’s likenesses from a 1931 book by Sadie lola Daneil (possibly the center right figure). Lucy Craft Laney, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Janie Porter Barrett (on the left side of the painting) created institutions and programs where young black women in the South could be educated and learn practical skills. Maggie Lena Walker (upper right), an educator early in her career, became the first woman founder and president of a bank in the United States and paved the way for women to enter professions. Jane Edna Hunter (center right) provided affordable, safe housing for black women working in Cleveland, Ohio, many of whom came north as part of the Great Migration. Nannie Helen Burroughs was an educator and activist for women’s rights and civil rights who opened a vocational school for women to learn skills useful beyond the domestic sphere. Johnson pictured all eight women adjacent to institutions they created to foster Black achievement within their communities.