Brian Lewis : Representation

Reading the poem “What Shall I Tell my Children who are Black?” by Margaret Burroughs, Brian Lewis describes what it means to him and how it has become part of his practice.

“What shall I tell my children who are black
Of what it means to be a captive in this dark skin?”

What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Full Poem)


Margaret T. Burroughs, Archivist of Black History

Mrs. Burroughs, an artist and high school teacher, shared with her husband, Charles, an interest in history and a desire to celebrate the achievements of black Americans. In 1961, using their own collection of art and artifacts, Mr. and Mrs. Burroughs established a small museum in three rooms on the first floor of a large house they had recently bought on South Michigan Avenue. Originally called the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art, it was renamed in 1968 to honor Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the black settler considered the first permanent citizen of what would become the city of Chicago.
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Brian Lewis is an educator, emcee and activist. He grew up on the south side of Chicago and attended St.Ignatius high school. As a young person, he was a member of the performing arts ensemble Kuumba Lynx. He also was metro editor of chicago’s Youth Communications New Expressions newspaper, a citywide publication generated by and geared toward high school students with a monthly circulation of 50,000. He was one of Youth Communication’s first high school aged students to become a paid intern with the Chicago Sun Times. He received a BA from New School University, double majoring in Education Studies and
Literature. At the newschool he was advised and mentored by the late Sekou Sundiata, and took several classes with him including The America Project. He worked as the program manager for the Union Square Partnership Education Program at Washington Irving high school, coordinating all youth advisory, esl support, college and career counseling and after school enrichment clubs and activities. He taught Literature and Art at Christ the King College Prep High School in Chicago’s Austen neighborhood. He has worked as a teaching artist,
counselor and program facilitator for the Chicago Park District’s Trace program. He currently lives in Brooklyn where he is a candidate for a Masters in Liberal Studies concentrating in Urban Education at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He is also the facilites coordinator at the New York Transit Museum, the country’s largest museum for urban transportation history. He is also a fellow for the Youth Activist Youth Ally Program, helping to coordinate their restructuring process with a team of other college and graduate student fellows. He also writes records and performs music under the alias Basik, where he is part of producer Robin Blesch’s international music project, as well as contributing music to the hip hop collective Rubix Cube.

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DuSable Museum

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