On the evening of May 25th, one year following the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter mural in Kingston was illuminated to provide a space for our community to grieve, to speak, to sing and to hold light together. Thank you to everyone who came out to hold space and light in remembrance of George Floyd, to reflect on the persona and collective impact of systemic racial violence and to honor those who do the work to heal these wounds every day.
A special thank you to Erica Brown for guiding us in that space, to Rev. Evelyn Clarke and Kortnee Simmons for leading us in song, to beetle bailey for sharing their clarity and “do good” and for the powerful presence of everyone else who bravely shared their perspectives or silently reflected alongside us.
The Black Lives Matter mural, located at 695 Broadway in Kingston, was completed on June 10th, 2020 by Jalani Lion, Dina Kravtsov and Matthew Schulze. When O+ approached Jalani, in the immediate aftermath of the video of George Floyd’s death circulating around the world, our goal was to provide him with the space and resources to be responsive to that critical moment. Radio Kingston offered the wall at 695 Broadway and Mat and Dina were brought onboard to act quickly, realize Jalani’s vision and to place the essential truth that “Black Lives Matter” on the main artery through Midtown Kingston.
Community member beetle bailey speaks at the vigil for George Floyd.
At the inception of the Black Lives Matter mural, the artists and O+ were made aware that the building that housed the image was going to be torn down in the year or two ahead. This pending demolition allowed us to be agile in the moment but raised a consciousness in all involved that we needed to be thoughtful and intentional as the fate of the wall came closer.
O+ Alum Kortnee Simmons opened the vigil with “A Change is Gonna Come.”
We are honored to have been able to support Jalani, and to stand in allyship to Kingston’s black community through this project and are dedicated to continuing to hold that space – through art – in honor of the current mural’s intention, representation and call for justice. We look forward to memorializing the current mural during the period of demolition and new construction and to working with Radio Kingston and creative professionals in the community to create a public work in that space when the new building is completed. We welcome community input in the fate of that space and will provide opportunities for proposals and engagement as the new project develops.