BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Day 28


Simmie Knox, Artist

As a youngster, the first love of Simmie Knox was baseball. But an eye injury forced him to give up playing for a while, and, at a doctor’s urging, he took up drawing to help him regain the ability to focus. It turned out to be his life’s work. Knox taught art for many years before turning to painting portraits. His work quickly drew praise, and his commissions have included Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, and key sports and entertainment personalities. His biggest commission was to paint the official White House portraits of President Clinton and his wife, Hillary — the first by an African-American artist. There are more than 225,000 artists in the U.S., just over 2½ percent of them African-American.

Newsweek Magazine recognized Mr. Knox’s talents by featuring him in a story of the portrait for President Clinton. NEWSWEEK

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