Paintings of immigration & survival

Fitzroy Newsum of the Tuskegee Airmen circa WWII. Painting by Nina Talbot.

of Newkirk,” others from the noted “Generations of Brooklyn” and some picked out of her recent “Brooklyn Neighbors.” Talbot explains that “the common denominator here is Brooklyn.”

The exhibit features immigrants such as nonagenarian Fitzroy Newsum, whose parents emigrated from Barbados in 1917 and he was born in Brooklyn in 1918. Newsum’s now 92.

Visiting Barbados as a child he remembers seeing an airplane flying overhead for the very first time and knew right then, according to a Talbot interview, that’s what he wanted to do in life.Years later, back in the States he joined the U.S. Air Force, but due to racism at that time, his application was rejected, but he was accepted into the newly formed Black, now legendary, Tuskegee Airmen. After training he became a combat flyer in WWII, made military history, and won a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Others included in Talbot’s immigration saga include Rashid of Bangladesh who fled the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971 when his soldier brother was killed by military police. Having escaped persecution he and family have since been safely ensconced in Brooklyn for about 17 years. He works for a Blood Bank center in New York.

Another, a ‘migrant’ in this case, the late Mrs. Evelyn Loftin moved to Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, from Pennsylvania, where she lived for 60 years. She became a strong community activist fighting for residents’ rights on all levels, particularly battling against wide-spread gentrification in Brooklyn.

Talbot’s new work also comes with a book of poems by her good friend Esther Cohen who turns the immigrant stories into “little jewels that capture the essence,” Talbot remarks. She feels her exhibit could not be coming out at a better time.

“I was hoping to show an awareness of other people in our communities. Many of them are immigrants. Everybody has a story but one never knows the trials and tribulations they have gone through to be here,” she reflects.

“With the showing coming out it is sorta a good time with all these immigration issues coming up. The ‘right-wingers’ are complaining about immigrants taking jobs. Immigrants are not taking jobs. They often work for below minimum wage at jobs some Americans don’t want. When my grandparents came here, my grandfather was a window washer. My grandmother worked in a hat factory. This is now just another round of immigrants that this country was built upon.” For more information, see: ninatalbot.com.

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