When I heard the story about the tragic death of William King, I was devastated. This young man used to wait on me at my local Walgreens. He was always polite and helpful. I signed his picture with tears in my eyes. How could someone be so cruel to snatch his life over something so minor?
Each evening as I listen to the news I wonder what is going on in the world, there is so much anger and rage. I see now why so many of my friends no longer watch the news or read the paper. The stories are so depressing.
King was just one of the people that I briefly met that has gone too soon. Recently Lamarr Barnes passed away. Years ago when I was a talk show host I interviewed Barnes. At that time he was with the City of Pittsburgh and I invited him on the show to talk about garbage pickup in the city. At first he hesitated, he thought that my callers and I were going to complain about service. He was pleasantly surprised to find out that the experience was good. He didn’t know what a fan I was of the people who pick up trash. We had a good conversation and he left the studio with a smile on his face. I hope someone in his family will read this and remember that interview.
In December of last year Jay Bakari passed away. Bakari was a Pittsburgh based artist also known as Jay C. Allen. I met him in the late 1980s when he was just beginning to market his art. He once sat in my living room and showed me a brochure of strong images of Black people. Later I purchased several pieces of his artwork. One of my favorites was his pencil drawing of Malcolm X. He had the print for sale at the Black Arts Festival in Homewood and I convinced him to sign it even though it was not an original. His work was phenomenal. I’m sure he would be surprised to find out that I have one of those images hanging in my closet. That’s right Jay, the closet. It is “Beauty In Black II,” when I bought that from you it reminded me of me. I absolutely loved it. I needed a piece of art in my newly decorated closet and after all those years I never framed or used that piece. After adding a strong black frame it was the perfect complement to my closet and garments.
Bakari became a nationally recognized artist and his work could be found in several retail outlets. According to the obituary there was no funeral or memorial for Jay Bakari, however you can still sign the online guest book for him. I recently did so and posted a picture of a piece of his artwork. His guest book is listed as Jay Bakari Sr. You can go to Post-gazette.com and do a search. The guestbook is powered by Guestbooks at legacy.com.
I’m sure many people do not realize that he is no longer with us. Bakari was 50 years of age. If you want to take a look of his work please visit theblackartdepot.com/Jaybakari. All of these men were gone too soon.
(E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.)