Alma Woodsey Thomas passed away over four decades ago, but her work has enjoyed renewed popularity, partly due to First Lady Michelle Obama. She was born September 22, 1891 in Columbus, Ga. before moving to Washington, D.C. as a teenager.

Thomas had hopes of becoming an architect, but those dreams were dashed due to sexism and racism of the time. However, the artistic student found a way to study Fine Art at Howard University and in 1924, she became the school’s first graduate in that discipline.

After some training as a schoolteacher, Thomas devoted the rest of her career to teaching at D.C.’s Shaw Junior High School where she also established a community arts program. During her time teaching, Thomas earned a master’s in Art Education from Columbia University in the early ‘30’s. (READ MORE)