The Struggle

Media - 2014.15 - SAAM-2014.15_1 - 96013
Copied Purvis Young, The Struggle, 1973-1974, acrylic on wood, 88 × 77 in. (223.5 × 195.6 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Grumbacher-Viener Collection in memory of Nancy Grumbacher, 2014.15

Artwork Details

The Struggle
88 × 77 in. (223.5 × 195.6 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of the Grumbacher-Viener Collection in memory of Nancy Grumbacher
Mediums Description
acrylic on wood
  • Figure male
  • Cityscape
  • Architecture — vehicle — truck
  • Architecture Exterior — domestic — apartment
Object Number

Artwork Description

Purvis Young lived his entire life in a segregated district of Miami known as Overtown, commonly called "Colored Town" before the late 1960s. When his neighborhood of African Americans and Caribbean immigrants was boarded up to make way for an overpass bridging more affluent sections of Miami, Young knew he had to do something.

Inspired by the Black activist murals in Chicago and Detroit, he began painting the boarded-up facades of shops along a once thriving baker's row, which locals called "Goodbread Alley."

For the rest of his life, Young made paintings focusing on the perils of being poor and socially disempowered in the United States. The Struggle shows individuals left with next to nothing fighting over what's left. It shows people hitting the road, moving on, making a way out of no way.