When someone is on death row, you don’t expect them to be creating works of art. However, that is exactly what Ndume Olatushani did during his twenty years on the Tennessee death row.
The African American Cultural Center invited Olatushani to APSU to share his story, as well as exhibit the paintings he did while on death row and the work of students in the Nashville school system.
Olatushani displayed some paintings he did while in the Tennessee death row system, which he described as a unique experience.
“I had to paint the canvas on my lap,” Olatushani said. “The paint brushes we had were cut really short, shorter than a pencil.”
Olatushani said he started his path in art with pencil drawings, after he commissioned a portrait of himself to be given to his mother.
“The portrait didn’t look anything like me, so I started drawing,” Olatushani said.
Olatushani made the paintings in response to his frustrations at the time and his aspirations for the future. Olatushani was convicted of robbery in Memphis, and spent the next 28 years in the prison system, 20 of which were on death row. Through his art and his story he aims to educate people in the hopes of bringing real change in the American system.
“Knowledge makes us responsible,” Olatushani said.
Olatushani reminded APSU students how fortunate they are to be going to college.
“There are many people who will never come here, to any college,” Olatushani said. “Many people deserve to be in college, but other circumstances prevented them from doing that.”