‘I am 400’: Richmond exhibit displays the journey of African Americans

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Public Library is home to many books and stories, but now thanks to a father-son art duo it’s also a place for visitors to appreciate one of RVA’s most unique exhibits.

The messages that Jerome W. Jones Jr. and his son, Jeromyah, paint are more than strokes on a canvas. Their exhibit illustrates the journey hundreds of years in the making and offers an experience of walking through the milestones that transcend geography.

“Railroads unseen from the past are a stitch for the studies of a new class,” Jeromyah said. “Four hundred years ago the first enslaved Africans were forced to Virginia.”

Their exhibit aims to explore not only the suffering but the successes of African Americans.

“It would be great to show paintings that really reflect our true character culture and contributions,” explained Jeromyah. “It’s one thing to look at this art and see decorations, but I want them to see declarations.”

Filling the room with positivity, this father-son duo put their lives into their work. Starting at the age of three, Jerome said he was born to paint.

“I’ve always known that’s what I wanted to be in life,” he told 8News. “To know who I am, what I am and where I am, comes from the I am that I am.”

His son picked up a few tricks along the way as well.

“It’s a blessing to be able to see your work hanging on the walls of an institution,” Jeromyah said.

The main branch of the Richmond Public Library offered them a chance to showcase their work through December. Some featured included icons like Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Richmond natives like Arthur Ashe.

“The banner that we have called ‘I am 400’ has 69 paintings in it between my son and I,” Jerome said.

“And this collection highlights the 400 year history of Africans in America from 1619 to 2019,” Jeromyah continued. “There are so many problems in our world today and people are looking for answers, we feel the gifts that we’ve given can be used to bring attention to solutions for the world’s pollutions.”

The portraits from “I am 400” showcase excellence and teach generations past, present and future.

“From this day on, a greater day will come,” Jeromyah told 8News.

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