Reason, A Colored Young Man in the City of New York, 1855, engraving: Poverty in American Black Art 

Patrick Henry Reason’s engraving of A Colored Young Man in the City of New York was completed in 1855. This work shows a young slave on his knees with his hands bound in chains with the words, “AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER” above him.

The figure shown looks like he is a young boy. He is on his knees as if in prayer. His solemn and innocent face gives him a humane appearance, contrasting with most of the other depictions of slaves as objects without emotions.

Children are innocent beings who do not deserve to be treated cruelly to the point of death: they have the entirety of their lives ahead of them. However, because of their naiveté, child slaves especially do not have the means to purchase their freedom. Because the figure appears to be a young boy, it reaches further into people’s hearts when they look at it.

The quote above him questions the viewer about what he sees in the image–an object or a human. He reminds the viewer that he, too, has a family and a life like every other human being and should be granted the right to life, liberty, and happiness.




Wooliver, Shannon. “Poverty In American Black Art.” N.p., 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.