Category Archives: Humboldt County

1001 Black Men #999


The man in this drawing was was one of a handful of other Black people I saw at the Fourth of July fireworks display I attended last year in Benbow, Humboldt County, California. Benbow is an incredibly small town (population 321), but the fireworks display was incredible! Each burst of color and fire and light was more impressive than the one before, and the display went on for much longer than I’d anticipated.

If you’ve ever been in East Oakland during the Fourth of July holiday, you may get the impression that young brothas are the most patriotic people in these United States–that is, if the purchase and use of illegal unsanctioned fireworks is any indication of commitment to God and country. Back in 2007, I briefly rented a house at the edge of East Oakland. The house had a terrace on the back, and on the Fourth of July, I could stand on that terrace see fireworks going off on streets all around me. I have to give these young brothers their due; there is no doubt in my mind that the display I could see from my terrace was bigger and more lavish than the official fireworks displays in certain small towns, but certainly not bigger that the no-holds-barred awesome display I saw in Benbow.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #888


Here’s another portrait from Garberville, CA.  Every year, a group of my friends travel to this town to hang out poolside, eat lots of food, and enjoy a weekend of doing absolutely nothing. This is one of the people who was in our group, and I sketched him while he lounged around the pool. He was friendly and, as you can tell from his beard, he was impeccably groomed. I also appreciate that when my partner told him I drew his picture, he seemed pleasantly surprised. He wanted me to show him the sketch, but I didn’t want to show him the drawing until it was completely done. That was four months ago. I’m kind of embarrassed by how long it took, but I’ll make sure he gets to see it.

Ajuan Mance