Celebrating Black Excellence – George Thomas

From Title Track grant writer, Carmelitta Tiffany:

“George Thomas moved to Detroit when he was a young boy from Atlanta. He moved to Idlewild when he was 12 but returned to Detroit off and on throughout his life. He was a witness to the 1967 Detroit race rebellion, and remembers when John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King were assassinated. He graduated with a GED and spent his working years detailing cars at car dealerships in Detroit and at Urka’s Auto Center in Ludington.

George had known he wanted to be an artist since he was seven years old, and has now become a well-known folk artist in the state. He has art in the permanent collections of the Muskegon Art Museum and Michigan State University’s Folk Art Museum. He now has settled in Idlewild for his retirement. He has five children, and five grandchildren.

I came to know him through a writing assignment for a local newspaper (read the full feature here, published in February 2023). He is a kind and generous man, sharing his talents through art workshops in local schools and in the community. He agreed to let me do an extended interview and we spoke for hours about his life, of which he humbly said, “I’m just me.” His advice to the world (and myself) who want to create art to “just keep practicing, keep doing it, and don’t give up!”

I’m very glad to know George. He has inspired me to persevere, no matter what obstacles land in the way.”

George Thomas stands beside his work entitled, “Jazz Jazz Mo Blues” in his studio. Photo courtesy of the artist.