Archibald John Motley, Jr., was an American visual artist. He studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1910s, graduating in 1918. Motley is most famous for his colorful chronicling of the African-American experience in Chicago during the 1920s and 1930s, and is considered one of the major contributors to the Harlem Renaissance, or the New Negro Movement, a time in which African-American art reached new heights not just in New York but across America—its local expression is referred to as the Chicago Black Renaissance.
The New Negro Movement marked a period of renewed, flourishing black psyche. There was a newfound appreciation of black artistic and aesthetic culture. Consequently, many black artists felt a moral obligation to create works that would perpetuate a positive representation of black people. During this time, Alain Locke coined the idea of the "New Negro", which was focused on creating progressive and uplifting images of blacks within society. The synthesis of black representation and visual culture drove the basis of Motley's work as "a means of affirming racial respect and race pride."