Location: Harlan Community Academy, Chicago IL
I didn't realize in 2019 that my design for this mural would be perfectly timed for this moment. I spent my time in quarantine fabricating 130 square feet of mosaic. I was unaware that the images emerging would be so poignant right now. It’s no coincidence that the installation began on May 26, one day after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. It was as if the deeper meaning of what I had just created was being revealed to me in real time.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed America’s devastating racial inequalities and the video of the brutal murder of George Floyd has exposed (once again) America’s systemic contempt for Black People. More specifically our Black Men.
I honestly don't remember much about my original thought process when I designed this piece ten months ago but what my own finished artwork has revealed to me this week is that this is Our time to PIVOT. This artwork pays homage to the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s. The raised fist of Tommie Smith continues to be a powerful symbol of resistance today. The imagery in this composition was inspired by the artwork of renown Black Panther artist Emory Douglas who created art for the Black Panther News Paper. It also speaks to the importance of Black Woman in todays movement as we are taking seats at tables with decision-making Power. Are we pivoting into a new decade where black people get equal justice?
I believe that the audacity of Darnella Fraizer (a 17 year old high school student) to stand in the face of a modern day lynching and film it for the world to see was invoked by a 400 year ancestral yearning for justice. We are at a tipping point. Our youth have picked up the baton and thrown it like a stick of dynamite into America’s corrupt and corrosive system of oppression and killing. Whether we agree with their tactics or not, this is our time to PIVOT. Going back to “Normal” is no longer an option.
Thank you Principal Ramona Outlaw and Harlan High School for your commitment to the Arts and for trusting my vision.