"If I Were Jehovah"

By Ohio History Connection

If I Were Jehovah (1970) by Jon Onye LockardOhio History Connection

Jon Onye Lockard, "If I Were Jehovah", from the collection of the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center.


Jon Onye Lockard was a practicing artist whose career spaned more than three decades. His work is influenced by years of research, travel and study of the African American experience through the diaspora.

In Lockard's dramatic allusion to a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, “We Wear The Mask”, a black man of awesome power and strength destroys the mask "that grins and lies," to reveal the internal rage that has been concealed inside.

This powerful work is both universal and timeless.

It is as current today as when produced in 1970, for it reflects the continuing struggle to be both black and American in a bigoted society.

For Lockard, the unique cultural influences of the African American experience yield a unique aesthetic.

"We have developed a specific aesthetic with its own implications for social, cultural, and artistic statements. If the Black artist understands this, he will be rewarded, and our ancestors may finally rest in the knowledge that their lives and experiences have not been in vain." - Jon Onye Lockard

Credits: Story

The National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center opened to the public in April 1988. Since that time, thousands of visitors have enjoyed the museum and its exhibits, including former President George Bush, former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammed Ali, historian and Ebony Editor Lerone Bennett, Jr., acclaimed artist Benny Andrews, fight promoter Don King, musician Winton Marsalis, noted actor William Marshall, Hall of Fame basketball coach John McLendon, educator Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Hall of Fame basketball player Oscar Robertson, His Excellency President of Mali Moussa Traore, plus numerous Congressional representatives, senators and others.

The museum is the permanent home of one of the nation’s largest collections of Afro-American materials, with over 9,000 artifacts and artwork, 350 manuscript collections, and thousands of photographs. Items include a dress uniform owned by General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., Alex Haley’s typewriter and his final draft of Roots, the NAACP Spingarn Medal awarded to Carter G. Woodson, a buffalo hide coat worn by a Buffalo Soldier, and Gregory Hines’s tap shoes.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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