Returned to lender The Met accepts temporary loans of art both for short-term exhibitions and for long-term display in its galleries.
We have no property! We have no wives! No children! We have no city! No country! -Petition of many slaves
Jacob Lawrence American
Not on view
In this harrowing scene, blood-red streaks punctuating a vertical mass of chained and armed black-and-white figures convey, in visceral terms, the powerful desire to live free. The title source is the urgent plea of an enslaved man, identified as "Felix," who petitioned the Province of Massachusetts Bay for freedom on behalf of all in the colony. In contrast to those peaceful claims, the image evokes the carnage that could result from denying "wise, just, and good" calls for liberty. Inspired by revolts in the Caribbean, many enslaved Africans pursued methods of resistance and rebellion throughout British America. Presciently, Lawrence spotlighted the contradiction between White patriots’ fight against English rule and a desire to maintain their privilege to enslave others.