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Bernice Sims

Please check out additional artists on https://www.instagram.com/folkartistphotochronicles/ Bernice Sims 1926-2014 was born on Christmas Day in the small community of Hickory Hill, Alabama. The eldest of eight children, Bernice grew up somewhat isolated from discriminatory racial divisions because “back then, everybody was poor”. As she grew up, she married at sixteen and became a single mother of six children when her husband left. She soon recognized the social injustice and became a participant in the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties. She coordinated activities of the NAACP in Alabama, participated in voter registration drives and even marched in the famous Selma-Montgomery March, “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965. At age 52, when her last child left home, and recovering from knee cap replacement, Bernice completed her GED and began to paint “memory paintings” of living in rural Alabama and her experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. Visiting Bernice was a wonderful experience - she sat, surrounded by her paintings, telling me tales of her life, documenting bucolic times: strawberry picking, hog killing, syrup making, church scenes and baptisms - and her harsh experiences of the civil rights marches. In the early nineties her work was recognized nationally through several shows and books plus the United States Post Office selected a Sims painting in their series of commemorative stamps titled “To Form A More Perfect Union”. In 2014 Bernice released a book about her life called “The Struggle: My Life and Legacy “. Shortly after a book signing event, Bernice passed away at age 88.


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