On the March

Media - 2016.38.85 - SAAM-2016.38.85_2 - 141150
Copied Purvis Young, On the March, 1996, paint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson, 2016.38.85

Artwork Details

On the March
sheet and image: 30 × 40 in. (76.2 × 101.6 cm)
Credit Line
The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson
Mediums Description
paint on paper
  • Abstract
  • Animal — horse
  • Figure group
Object Number

Artwork Description

Young lived his entire life in a segregated district of Miami known as Overtown, commonly called “Colored Town” until the late 1960s, when a highway overpass was constructed straight through the historic heart of the city’s Black community—forcing residents out. Young witnessed the ways in which neighborhoods of immigrants and people of color came last in the United States. Inspired by the African American activist murals in Chicago and Detroit, he began painting the boarded-up facades of shops along a once thriving baker’s row, referred to by locals as Goodbread Alley. Young’s themes, captured here in On the March, focus on the perils of being poor and Black in the United States, and the particular challenges experienced by immigrants and displaced persons and communities.
(We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection, 2022)