WHO WE ARE
Memorialize the Movement (MTM) was created in reaction to the murder of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Uprising of 2020. The mission of MTM is to collect, preserve, and activate the plywood murals that Twin Cities artists created to illustrate the public discourse on police brutality, state violence, and the Black experience in this renewed civil rights movement.
Through this work we are bringing the Black narrative to the forefront of this ongoing fight for justice. So often in history Black people are not allowed to tell our own stories. How our history gets told is often decided by white historians and museums and often told in ways that minimize our oppression in order to make it palatable to people who don't want to acknowledge how systematic racism affects Black and Brown people in this country. MTM is a mirror to those institutions. Through the messages on the boards we force historians, museums, governments, and communities to face the reality of our pain and our collective trauma in the hopes that understanding will lead to positive change.
MTM is also dedicated to uplifting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists, creatives, and arts organizations. The sad reality is that white artists took up space last summer. While Black artists were mourning the death of Mr. Floyd, white artists took to the plywood to create elaborate murals and beautiful messages about a struggle that was not their own. When Black artists finally gained the capacity to express themselves, there was very little space left for them to do so. That is why we are dedicated to curating spaces specifically for Black and Brown artists to create new murals. We want to be an organization that centers BIPOC creatives and continues to provide opportunities for artistic expression and healing.
Art has always been an important tool for sparking conversations around social movements. MTM aims to continue that tradition not only by challenging the people who come to see these murals, but by challenging the museum and conservation systems as well. In the museum industry there is a distinct lack of representation and resources for Black and Brown historians and conservators. Our goal with MTM is to build a new institution, where BIPOC are the stewards of their own stories, where no one “owns” history or historic artifacts, and where history is retold and remembered as it was, not as we wanted it to be. This new institution will begin with the plywood murals and will be accessible to everyone. These murals will be stewarded and cared for by people who understand their significance and benefit most from their preservation.
Since 2020 MTM has led an ever-growing team of volunteers around the Twin Cities to collect plywood murals from businesses and artists to be preserved and archived. Since we began, we have collected over 1,000 plywood panels which are now being stored in a climate-controlled storage space until we can establish a more permanent space. Our plan for this art is to build a permanent and public memorial space so that this Black narrative is preserved and accessible to everyone.
Meet The Founder
Leesa Kelly - Founder | Executive Director
Leesa is a Chicago Native who moved to Minnesota in 2017. When she is not working on MTM projects, she is writing, speaking at conferences and in classrooms, or facilitating workshops to empower Black and Brown women. She believes in dismantling oppressive systems and rebuilding new systems that work for ALL people.
Photo credits: Margo Ashmore