TWHC Text In 1990 I purchased a metal slide case filled with what must have been a thousand 35mm transparencies once used to illustrate a late 1960s Black History course. At the time I thought it wrong to leave it sitting outside in the flea market sun and figured I’d find a home for it - maybe in a proper archive. There seemed to never be enough time to assess the entire set, so years passed and it moved around Los Angeles with me to eleven different apartments and houses over the course of 28 years. Around 2015 the African American community began to protest police violence all across the country and I watched from afar, horrified by the endless stream of police over-reaction killings of black people. Black Lives Matter shined a bright light on the deep, enduring racism I mistakenly hoped had diminished in America and consequently, I found myself wanting to make a visual response to the deep systemic abuse. In 2016 as work proceeded on my series The Republic, I remembered the rusting gray steel box on the shelf in the cellar. Its contents covered vast amounts of time, from slavery in ancient Nubia to the Freedom Riders in the American South. Deep in the collection were many copies, all fading into pink, of antique news engravings depicting slavery and abuse of blacks by whites. When the visibility of white supremacy escalated during and since the presidential election, many of these images have been republished in contemporary news applications, but in the early summer of 2016 these images were new to me. The antique engravings reminded me of the idyllic country village china pattern and souvenir flow blue plates my mother had when I was growing up, only replete with racists and slaves. They were the images left out of my history schoolbooks. The engraved imagery struck me as a vehicle to navigate the subject of slaveholding presidents and I embarked on creating a facsimile of the White House China collection, but one riddled with the chilling subtext of a country and economy built on the subjugation of human beings. In 1916-17 President Woodrow Wilson’s second wife Edith Bolling Wilson, created The White House China Room, a collection displaying all the china patterns owned by presidents. My interest was doubly peaked when I learned both that Mrs. Bolling Wilson was potentially somewhere on my remote family tree and also that the Ku Klux Klan was particularly emboldened, if not enabled during Mr. Wilson’s time as head of state. The use of the early news engravings coupled with images of actual presidential china patterns recreated the look of formal dinnerware yet the barbaric treatment of African Americans at the hands of whites depicted in the illustrations stood in bold contrast to the supposed civilization and culture set around historic dining tables. One exception in The White House China series is that I have included President Lincoln with a plate of his own, even though he led the Union to end slavery. The fire of human bondage burned through his time in office and split the country in two, making it feel relevant to my timeline and to history. I also used The White House China of later presidents to depict tragic events or issues that occurred either due to their leadership or during their time in office. These works representing more recent presidents use archival photographic imagery and I am indebted to The Library of Congress for their incredible collection. One ironic note is that after making many of the dinnerware images, I stumbled upon several of the engravings from my box of slides, preserved in the their vast archives. In November of 2016 as President Obama was about to leave the White House, I made a plate in his honor. Reflecting on the collective sense of doom felt by the left, I believed this new government would reverse the progress made under Mr. Obama’s leadership. What resulted was a dinner plate turned backward with a china label reading: “The President’s House, Washington, Obama,” along with the presidential crest. It is and will be the only platein the series turned backward as a minority leadership in our country continues to negate and erase African American accomplishment.