Jacob Lawrence (September 7, 1917 - June 9, 2000) was an African American painter; he was married to fellow artist Gwendolyn Knight.
Lawrence is probably among the most well known twentieth century African American painters, a distinction also shared by Romare Bearden. Lawrence's Migration Series made him nationally famous when it was featured in a 1941 issue of Fortune Magazine. The series depicts the great move north of blacks in the Depression years.
Lawrence was born on September 7, 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He had a sister named Geraldine and a brother named William. They moved many times over the course of his life but he first made his name in Harlem in 1930, where he went to school at Utopia Children's House. He finally settled in Seattle, Washington where he married Gwendolyn Knight in 1970 and became an art professor at the University of Washington where some of his works are now displayed in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering and in Meany Hall for the Performing Arts. The piece in the main lobby of Meany Hall entitled "Theatre" was commissioned for the hall in 1985. In 1998 he received Washington State's highest honor, The Washington Medal of Merit.
Lawrence's work often portrayed important periods in African-American history. Among his works are a series of pieces about the abolitionist John Brown and another about Haitian revolutionary Toussaint l'Ouverture, as well as numerous depictions of Harriet Tubman. He was awarded the US National Medal of the Arts in 1990.