John Henry Coates, Jr. aka "Big John" was born on May 16, 1935. A native Washingtonian, John grew up in the Garfield-Congress Heights area. He joined the US Air Force and spent 4 years active duty in the Korean War. During this time he became known for his boxing abilities, and he boxed professionally when he returned to the US. He is a self-taught artist.
The donor, Vernetta Scott, is the neice of the John Coates, Jr.
(Information from donor letter, dated April 11, 1996)
Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum