Utica, NY - The conversation of racial equality, social justice and the black lives matter movement have become even more prevalent over the past few months.
Today, at Kemble Park, partners in the City of Utica are holding a Black Lives Matter Summer Justice Art Mural Event to unveil a new "Black Lives Matter" mural.
With help from significant donations made by the HomeOwnershipCenter and the law office of Oneka Roach-Campbell, the event features the work of four local artists who have come together to paint the 16’x22’ mural which is on the large handball wall at the park.
“I heard it was being planned just through friends that we work with the community. I just saw it as a perfect fit for the HomeOwnershipCenter,” said Danielle Smith, CEO of the HomeOwnershipCenter.
“We really want to listen to the community and obviously this mural, we want people to understand that we fully support this neighborhood, this community in all Black lives matter throughout the nation. We want them to know that we stand behind them, not in front of them, and we want to hear what they need from us not telling them. We are financially sponsoring this. We are not in the forefront. It’s the artists that are putting this together, it’s the planning committee, it’s not us. Bu fiscally we are sponsoring it so they can go ahead and move this forward, bring the community together and have community discussions.”
City of Utica officials were present to give remarks about the artwork.
“We are so proud, we as a city are so proud of what we’re presenting today. We build bridges but we build them together. We have a ways to go. I don’t want anyone to think that we are content where we are,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.
The mural has a community quilt theme made of black squares that represent love, peace, historical figures and more meant to celebrate the heritage and cultural contributions of the black community in Utica.
“It's hard to pin the idea to one person because there was so much outreach from the community into City Hall. People like Councilman Delvin Moody, the Mayor, Michelle Truitt who’s been back here working hard. We wanted to do something that’s unique to Utica,” said Marques Phillips, City of Utica Director of Initiatives and contributing artist of the mural.
“It's (the mural) been up but it's incomplete because the last part of it is people from the community can come right and fill in the squares. I expect them to be honest, to contribute and to leave what they’ll want to show their kids one day, what they’ll want to take a picture next to one day. There’s a lot of people with strong feelings on the topic and we're not here to censor any feelings or any creative expression. We're asking people to be part of the solution. The mural it's kind of like a metaphor for that.”
Free masks were given out to the public and law-enforcement was present passing out snacks to the community.