BJ’s commitment to establishing AFRICOBRA came on the heels of her participation in the
    creation of the Wall of Respect.  She heartily embraced the idea of artists working together and
    sharing ideas; and having been grounded in a community that was bustling with the activity of
    people capturing the consciousness of the age in ways never experienced before, her prints
    spoke of the agony and euphoria of the three centuries long existential crises in America that
    kept Black people on the fringes of everything good, yet smack dab in the center of everything
    bad.  The Stars and Stripes, which appears in some of her compositions, morphed into a beast
    that stripped the flesh from ancestors.  But, the spirit of regeneration embodied in prints such
    as “Rise and Take Control” pointed to heroic transformations on the horizon. As one of the two
    women who founded AFRICOBRA (others became members or participated later) Barbara’s
    work extolled fraternal sentiments which were stronger than those expressed by many of her
    male counterparts. Barbara orchestrated the silk screen reproduction of member’s work,
    which, fulfilled the group’s desire to make inexpensive art work available for the public.   Ujima
    (collective work and responsibility) was the watchword governing the operation as we worked
    late into the night many times over a 6 month period until five of the seven editions were
    completed.  Following the last AFRICOBRA exhibit in which all of the founding members
    participated (1973) Barbara ceased to be active in the group and dedicated herself to teaching
    in Malcolm X College in Chicago for more than thirty years, and to raising her son, Kuumba.  

    In December 2009, Barbara and I reminisced about the early years of the AFRICOBRA as we
    munched vegetarian sandwiches in a restaurant in the old Harper Court where Black artists
    met many years ago to discuss organizing. Snow fell thick and heavy outside as we tried to
    piece together the lapses in time with our individual recollections.  In the ensuing years since
    1973 Barbara had produced few prints, but had produced meditational drawings and paintings,
    which have been seen by only a few people, and she also had done a series of spontaneous
    paintings in the Studio For Experiential Painting (now defunct) which she has not shown
    publicly.

    
Now retired from her teaching post, BJ spoke profusely and enthusiastically about her post
retirement activities, concentrating mainly on digitally assisted images and learning the art of
documentary film production.  There is clear evidence of a resurgent Barbara Jones in the
works that she showed me.  In her newest creations she revisits some familiar themes that
were the bedrock of her earlier works.  Where “my brother’s keeper” and “relate to your
heritage” were visionary messages from and for a larger Black World in the 1960's and 70's,
these new works are much closer to home and to her personal universe than she is known
for.  She has returned to her family roots for creative inspiration and the work shows a back
reach to the familiar, both in terms of her artistic style, and thematic material.  The political
themes like “rise and take control” or “take care of business,”  that were infused into her
early AFRICOBRA work is obviously absent, but the intensity, luminosity, and color, retains the
same allegiance to the principles of AFRICOBRA.


Barbara has granted permission to present her older works and a few of her latest digital
prints on the following pages.