Naima Mora’s great-grandmother, Mary Carson Catlett (Elizabeth Catlett’s mother) and great-grandfather John Catlett valued and stressed education. John Catlett was a professor at the Tuskegee Institute. Mary (pictured with her sisters) and John Catlett were both children of freed slaves. Their daughter Elizabeth Catlett took their love and belief in education to heart – denied admission to Carnegie Institute because she was a Black woman, she went on to Howard University and Iowa State. Naima shared:

And having prepared very hard to receive higher education as an artist she applied to Carnegie Institute and was rejected. She says she found out that the reason she was rejected was because she was a woman of color. Then realizing that the body of work that she presented was actually much more compelling and proved to have a lot more capacity as an artist than the other several applicants applying for the spot at Carnegie.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Carnegie Institute later in life.

Read more about Naima Mora’s grandmother Elizabeth Catlett here: