Skip navigation

Benjamin Harrison Hill 1904-1971

by Simmie Knox

Commissioned by the 2003-2005 Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus
Dimensions: 40 x 30
Dedicated May 24, 2005

Benjamin Harrison Hill 1904-1971 by Simmie Knox
Photo by John Jernigan

The Artwork

Benjamin Harrison Hill, Democrat, was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1968. A native of Canada, Hill was a longtime Tulsa civic leader. He served as pastor of the Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church and was an elementary teacher, principal, and journalist. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce College, a doctorate in divinity from Samuel Payne Theological University and studied at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln University, and Langston University at Langston, Oklahoma.

The Artist

Simmie Knox
Simmie Knox

Regarding his work, Simmie Knox states, “I think that a good portrait is the most difficult thing for an artist to bring off successfully. Not only must you get an accurate likeness but you must also create a good painting. Somehow you must convey a subject’s character, spirit and personality; and everything must communicate the dynamism of the subject.”

Since 1981, Knox has specialized in portraiture. He earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Pennsylvania. Knox was commissioned to paint the official portrait of former President Bill Clinton, resulting in Knox becoming the first African American to ever paint an official portrait of an American president. Knox has painted portraits of U.S. congressmen and state senators, civic leaders, celebrities, and religious leaders.