During his time as a camera man at NOATV, Bmike met Llewelyn Soniat, a longtime civil rights and community activist, when Soniat was a special guest. Soniat served from 1958 to 1994 with the NAACP New Orleans Branch Executive Committee and Youth Council and spoke out about local police brutality toward the African American community. “Lleweyln Soniat was one of those elders who influenced me deeply,” says Bmike. “NOATV was my real life civics class at a time when I was searching for answers around my identity. This series of paintings pays tribute to those who helped me navigate that moment, as I listened behind the camera standing ten feet away.” The Llewelyn Soniat papers are held by the Amistad Research Center located in Tilton Hall on the campus of Tulane University.
image above: Brandan “Bmike” Odums
Llewelyn Soniat (1926-2014), 2020
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas
Courtesy of Studio BE, New Orleans
Llewelyn Soniat (b. Dec 7, 1926, New Orleans; d. Dec 2, 2014, New Orleans). Civil rights activist, 1949 graduate of Xavier University, 1958-1994 NAACP New Orleans Branch Executive Committee; 1961-1989 New Orleans NAACP Youth Council; US Postal Service, political campaign volunteer for New Orleans mayors Ernest “Dutch” Morial and Marc H. Morial, among others.