Welcome to part two of a pictorial essay highlighting Oakland, California’s colorful, artistic reminder of America’s struggle for social justice and in particular the events of the past few weeks (Click here to see part I). The many murals that have appeared almost magically on walls and sheets of plywood are not just presentations of recent events, they are an artistic voice that reminds residents and visitors of a too long struggle.
These murals are memorials to innocent lives taken; names that if not for our national shame we might never know. All that these men and women wanted was to live normal lives, be ordinary people, have families and not end up immortalized on sheets of plywood because they died for our sin.
“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.” ~ Marian Anderson, American singer (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993).
“The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.” ~ Maya Angelou.
“I can’t bring myself to watch yet another video, not because I don’t care, but because we’re all just a few videos away from becoming completely desensitized. The public execution of Black folks will never be normal.” ~ Andrena Sawyer, author, business consultant, and entrepreneur.
“The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer.” ~James Baldwin
“The haunting video of Mr. Floyd’s last breaths is a sobering reflection of this national crisis. …This is a time when we must embrace our differences and become more inclusive. No group should ever be targeted for racism, harassment or other form of discrimination.” ~ Roger Ferguson, CEO, TIAA
The mural below was painted by DeredWRK. “Painting these murals makes me feel more like an artist than I ever have before. I feel like I have a voice and a purpose. The portrait I did of George Floyd is terrible. It was rushed and the only reference I had was on my phone, but that’s not important—the message is, the reminder is.”
The mural below was painted by Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong of Twin Walls Mural Company. Some months ago I had the pleasure of watching Elaine Chu put the finishing touches on a mural in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“I believe our sorrow can make us a better country. I believe our righteous anger can be transformed into more justice and more peace.” ~ Barack Obama