These Awesome Sweatshirts Imagine Fictional Colleges Named After Black Leaders — PHOTOS
While many would dismiss fashion as a vapid pursuit, the industry and those involved in it have shining, stand-out moments that can't be denied. That's especially true of School of Thought. The sweatshirt creators name colleges after black leaders in an exceptionally creative and thoughtful way to bring much needed representation of men and women of color to education.
Unless you've been completely ignoring the news — and the trending topics on Facebook — you'll know that as of late, the issue of black representation in education has been on the minds of many. In November, the University of Missouri erupted in protests regarding the threatening, racist environment that had been building for some time. November, however, was not when the events began. In October, Concerned Student 1950 was formed after a blatant lack of response from upper level administration — namely university president Tim Wolfe — became unbearable. Following their protests, a swastika painted with human feces was found inside a dorm, and graduate student Jonathan Butler announced a hunger strike until Wolfe announced his resignation. Soon, the media began to take note of the story when — in solidarity with Concerned Student 1950 — members of the Mizzou football team declared a strike until Wolfe left Mizzou. Steadily, Concerned Student 1950 garnered more and more support as they launched a camp out on the campus. On Nov. 9, Wolfe resigned.
The racial discrimination and tensions at the University of Missouri are, unfortunately, not uncommon. Universities are often meccas of privilege for white students who, more often than not, see buildings, libraries, and entire colleges named after white men and women who, often times, actively participated in the marginalization and enslavement of black men and women. With colleges still honoring these individuals, it's not a stretch to imagine a link between racial tension and the tradition of universities.
Audre Lorde Collegiate Crew, $37.50, philadelphiaprintworks.com
School of Thought, however, is challenging the white representation often seen at public and private institutions in a super cool, subversive way. The brand worked in conjunction with Philadelphia Printworks to create the designs which feature black influencers such as Harriet Tubman, Audre Lorde, and Marcus Garvey.
Harriet Tubman Collegiate Crew, $37.50, philadelphiaprintworks.com
One of the coolest aspects of School of Thought is their thoughtful design process. The brand does take into account the traditional designs of university sweatshirts, but their careful illustrations subvert the traditional look through design. Designer Donte Neal says, "We didn't want to just frivolously say, 'We'll make this one red, black and white 'cause it looks cool.'" The artwork, like the George Washington Carver Agricultural University sweatshirt, reflects the strides these black leaders made in the world.
George Washington Carver Collegiate Crew, $37.50, philadelphiaprintworks.com
The popularity of the sweatshirts has exploded and with good reason. Neal says it best when he explains, "Activism and advocating can be very frustrating. During these difficult times, it's very important to nurture safe spaces and to add positive imagery to the discussion ... We seek to inspire people to actively imagine a more inclusive future."
James Baldwin Collegiate Crew, $37.50, philadelphiaprintworks.com
By helping to create safe spaces for men and women of color to celebrate their history, the group is able to simultaneously advocate for black leaders' impact of history to be brought into the spotlight that it deserves.
To check out the rest of the sweatshirts from the collection, click here.
Images: Courtesy of brand