Thelma Johnson Streat

ThelmaJStreat portrait

Are you asking the same question I was when I first heard this name? Who is Thelma Johnson Streat? I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show last week and heard the “Little Known Black History Fact” segment about her and was completely surprised I had never heard of her before. Thelma Johnson Streat was an African American artist, dancer, and educator in the 1940s. During Roosevelt’s New Deal Works Progress Administration she began painting images of the Black struggle which angered the KKK and lead to multiple death threats on her life. In 1947 she was one of four African Americans to have solo art exhibit shows in New York City and the first African American woman to have one collected by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)!  It is also her best known piece “Rabbit Man”.

Rabbit Man - Thelma J Streat

The most awesome fact I found out when I watched a segment on her on The History Detectives (Season 7, episode 9). Her niece contacted The History Detectives to have them investigate whether any of the mural sketches Ms. Streat did were turned into actual murals around the country. They were not able to conclusively answer the question but what they did discover was awesome! I won’t spoil it for you, just watch the clip.

Watch WPA Mural Studies on PBS. See more from History Detectives.


{Image source: blackamericaweb, thelmajohnstreat,,}

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