Between 2014 and 2015 Sankofa Fine Art Plus received grants to create a mural in Glenville. Our initial plan was to install a monumental sized mural of Superman on East 105th Street because the comic book character’s creator grew up in the area. The social-economic realities of the community however, determined the project should take a different direction.
The prominent issue that captured the community’s attention at the time was the indiscriminate killing of unarmed black men and boys by police officers. The murder of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and the Black Lives Matter movement spoke more to the community’s conscious outrage than the fact that Glenville was the historical home of a comic book hero.
Sankofa Fine Art Plus artists, Gary Williams and Robin Robinson, worked to create a composition that captured the community’s frustration with the mainstream media’s attempted justification of Trayvon Martin’s murder because the youth was wearing a hoodie. The hoodie became a de facto symbol of racial profiling of young black males.
While the Glenville resident’s response to the image created by Williams and Robinson was overwhelmingly positive, there was some push back on using the name of the organization, Black Lives Matter, on the mural’s placard. The word “Black” was replaced by “Our” to everyone’s satisfaction and the hoodie being worn by both the father figure and the little girl illustrated its harmlessness.
Nearly two hundred (200) people attended the unveiling on November 29, 2015 in support of the message and the solidarity of the community.