ROOTS: A Black Literary Art Show

Call for Artists

Deadline: 1/11/2021

Show dates: 1/18-2/26/2021 *Virtual*

Reception: 1/18/2021

The Poetry Out Loud curriculum that AmadorArts is required to provide to all high schoolers in our county, coincides with Black History Month. Thus, AmadorArts is proud to present “ROOTS: A Black Literary Art Show”. Running online from January 18 through March 18, Roots will feature the very best of Black Poetry from all over the world. Using the Poetry Out Loud anthology for inspiration, Artists of all media are invited to submit visual art, recordings, videos, and/or original poems that honor, showcase, and uplift the works of Black Poets throughout history. Works will be presented in our online gallery.

Artists may include artist bio and statement, maximum 500 characters. Works may be for sale. If sold, 30% of sales price is a contribution to Amador County Arts Council. Image of artwork, recording, video, and/or written piece along with signed exhibit form and optional bio & statement must be delivered to the Amador County Arts Council via email no later than January 11th. No fee to enter show. Questions can be directed to Program Coordinator, Alyssa Vargas at This show is made possible by the Amador County Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, and the California Arts Council, a state agency.

ROOTS Art Show Entry Form PDF

COWBOY POETRY – an essential competent to our Gold Rush Community. Black Cowboys were the focus of the 2020 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. Find our more HERE

Don Flemons is a famous Black Cowboy Poet from Pheonix Arizona who is also an accomplished GRAMMY-award winning musician and recipient of the 2020 United States Artist Fellowship award for the Traditional Arts category which is generously supported by the Andrew W. Melon Foundation. His “Black Cowboys” Album peaked at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart. Learn more HERE

Did you know that one in four frontier cowboys were Black? More info HERE.                        Black cowboy with horse (cir. 1890),
Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library

Black History Month is an established, nationally recognized observance that honors the lives, experiences, and history of Blacks in America. For almost 50 years, it has reminded us of the extraordinary men and women who achieved incredible things often in the face of unimaginable injustice and inequality. All too often the contributions of Black Americans, as well as those of women and other historically marginalized communities, have been forgotten or purposely relegated into the obscurity of a lost history amid bigotry and discrimination. Since Africans arrived on the shores of North America over 400 years ago, they have made significant contributions to the American motif in various fields including art, music, poetry, science, politics, technology, geographic exploration and industry.

For more on Black contributions during the Gold Rush: “Documenting The History Of African-Americans In The California Gold Rush”


As an interesting tidbit: local historians report that Alex Haley made the final compilation of his famous novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family from within the old Volcano Schoolhouse, which he rented for that project.

Mary Fields (c. 1832–1914) (a.k.a. Stagecoach Mary) was the first African-American female star route mail carrier in the United States.


Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, And Little Known Stories From History by Tricia Martineau Wagner – The word cowboy conjures up vivid images of rugged men on saddled horses—men lassoing cattle, riding bulls, or brandishing guns in a shoot-out. White men, as Hollywood remembers them. What is woefully missing from these scenes is their counterparts: the black cowboys who made up one-fourth of the wranglers and rodeo riders. This book tells their story.

Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves (Race and Ethnicity in the American West) by Art T. Burton – Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves appears as one of “eight notable Oklahomans,” the “most feared U.S. marshal in the Indian country.” That Reeves was also an African American who had spent his early life as a slave in Arkansas and Texas makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. Bucking the odds (“I’m sorry, we didn’t keep black people’s history,” a clerk at one of Oklahoma’s local historical societies answered a query), Art T. Burton sifts through fact and legend to discover the truth.

Online Gallery

The ROOTS: Art Show entries will be displayed here when the virtual gallery opens!