Today marks the 900th drawing in the 1001 Black Men series, and a milestone post like this demands a very special portrait. For this drawing, I have chosen my portrait of African American poet and activist Lateef McLeod. Lateef is a former student of mine, and I consider myself very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him. He is a committed activist in the area of disability rights, and he is an accomplished poet and essayist. The quote I’ve included in this portrait is from his poem, “I Am Too Pretty for Some Ugly Laws.” You can read the full text of this poem and others at his website.
Poet Lateef McLeod holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College. He is the author of A Declaration of a Body of Love, a collection of poems on the themes of family, disability, the body, and coming of age. Lateef has written for The Huffington Post, The Disability Visibility Project, Disability Right Now, Konch Magazine, and many other publications. He is currently an intern for Sins Invalid, organization that “incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities.”
Here’s another gentleman who is the likely parent, grandparent, friend, spouse, or guardian of new or returning Mills undergrad. I’m no Sherlock homes, but I’m guessing that he’s not a student, based on the fact that most of our graduate students are a bit younger than he seemed to be. I’m guessing he is somehow attached to an undergrad (and not a grad student) because those grad students who live on campus tend to move in on their own, without a dad, uncle, or grandpa in tow.
I teach at Mills College, an impressively diverse institution by any measure. Still, even the full student body cannot measure up to the diversity on campus during the days leading up to the beginning of the school year. Despite the class, race, gender, and age diversity that they bring to the campus, all of the students have one thing in common–they are all enrolled in college. During the weekend before the fall semester begins, the campus is buzzing with parents, spouses, partners, children, grandparents, and friends, all of whose experiences cover an even broader range of experiences and backgrounds than those of the loved ones they’ve come to drop off.
The man in this drawing was the first to emerge from a car full of women, one of whom was about to enter her first year of college. Between asking me for directions and making sure the student in question was carrying the paperwork she needed, it took the rest of the people in the car a few additional minutes to get out. Through all of this, the man in this drawing seemed content to wait quietly, and he stood beside the vehicle, gazing at the scenery and striking this memorable pose.