ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– Different people have different ways of expressing their appreciation for Black History. For Freeport native George Triplett, his outlet is through artwork.
George Triplett has rooms in his home filled will memorabilia of famous black athletes and sports teams.”
“This is the old National Black baseball league,” said Triplett looking down at some jerseys and pennants on his pool table in his basement.
He even has Muhammad Ali’s autograph from the time he met Ali in Indianapolis.
“I told him to write it to the Tripletts.”
Triplett has a stamp collection that includes famous black athletes, and everywhere in his home there are photos of famous black athletes, and famous black musicians like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Dizzy Gillespie and Michael Jackson.
Much of Triplett’s collection centers around the many great athletes in Freeport history, like former World Boxing Champion Gerald McClellan, former Harlem Globetrotter McKinley ‘Deacon’ Davis, former Olympic basketball player Carl Cain, and running back Preston Pearson who played in five Super Bowls.
Then there’s something that is uniquely George Triplett, his drawings that he did himself.
There’s Joe Louis the former boxing champion, Martin Luther King Jr., James Brown, and one with Walter Payton and Ali on it.
“Art is a great thing!” said Triplett.
Triplett first discovered his talent for and love of drawing when he was about 13 and living in the St. Vincent Orphanage in Freeport in the 1960s.
“A nun was there, and I was drawing a horse, I thought I was anyway, and she called me and she said, ‘George, I want to see you after class.’ I said, ‘Oh Boy, I’m in for it now.’
No, Triplett wasn’t in trouble. Instead, the nun praised his work and encouraged him to continue with it.
After Triplett graduated from Freeport in 1969, his artwork didn’t pay the bills, so he got a job with Commonwealth Edison as a lineman. He even has drawings of that which he made.
“I was one of the first blacks hired there.”
Triplett then pulled out another drawing he had created.
“This is a charcoal drawing that I’ve done of this young lady. The hair was something I’d never done before. I used a charcoal in the background.
Triplett’s favorite drawing is one he did of his grandmother.
“I’ve done some pictures much better than my grandmother, but it’s one that’s really close to her, and it’s exactly what she is.”
Black history, it’s at Triplett’s finger tips, just the way he likes it.
“When you look back and you see the black history and the many, many hundreds, hundreds of black heroes, you could never do them all.”
Triplett sometimes displays his drawings and memorabilia at shows around the area. He’s more than happy to share what he knows about Black History.