Sketchbook page for Serving Time

Saar identifies the bird atop the cage in this drawing as “(Jim) Crow.” Jim Crow laws were used to enforce racial segregation in the American South from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 to the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. The name supposedly derives from a nineteenth-century minstrel routine called “Jump Jim Crow,” which was performed by a white man in blackface; it eventually became a derogatory name for Black Americans.

Betye Saar
Sketchbook page for Serving Time, 24 February 2009 (facsimile)
Ballpoint pen on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. © Betye Saar.
photo © Museum Associates/LACMA