Justice for George: Breaking Barriers, Building Bonds
The 3rd Annual Justice for George 2023: Breaking Barriers, Building Bonds was hosted and celebrated on May 27th and 28th. Over the last two years, Memorialize the Movement (MTM) has hosted our annual Justice for George exhibition to commemorate George Floyd’s life and legacy by providing a space for healing and creativity for our Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other communities of color. Justice for George 2021 and 2022 were large-scale exhibitions that took place in Phelps Field Park with many elements including live muralists, musical performances, and a resource fair of community organizations.
This year’s event took place over two days, featuring a mural display of the panels in our stewardship, a panel discussion of artists discussing the intersection of mental health and art, holistic health professionals demonstrating their respective practices, musical performances, wellness vendors, as well as our monthly Paint to Express (PTE) workshop and an interactive mural painting. It's estimated that 300+ individuals cycled through the exhibit over the duration of the two days.
We strive to continue to honor the legacy of Mr. Floyd and the artists who created the murals by using this year's event to highlight the holistic healing resources that our community needs.
Day 1: Breaking Barriers
For the opening day, we centered on breaking down systemic practices within the museum industry that prevent Black, Brown, and communities of other color from accessing the arts and seeing themselves represented in art.
For the PTE, we created for participants to paint and express their emotions on plywood. After painting their mini mural, we gave them the option to either take their mini mural home or add it to the Plywood Quilt of murals in the front gallery.
Towards the end of the night, we held a panel discussion with our three panelists, Christopher E. Harrison, Lissa Karpeh, and Christopheraaron Deanes. The discussion was centered on “Art in Action: A Discussion about the intersections between art, education, and mental wellbeing”. We got to hear first-hand experience and take on why each of the panelists began to do the work and the emotions towards their work.
Day 2: Building Bonds
Building Bonds was an opportunity to celebrate our community and uplift the artists, performers, vendors, and wellness practitioners who are doing the important work of healing our community so that we can keep thriving. We reminded ourselves that rest is a radical act of protest. The sole purpose of hosting this day was to give our community a chance to rest and experience joy.
For day two we had performers, wellness vendors, wellness practitioners, an MTM mural exhibition inside, an interactive mural painting with Crystal Sokuu, live murals by Sophia Ponce and Briauna Williams, and catering by Papa J’s Kitchen and Goods.
The day began with Kalpulli Tlaloctecuhtli, a queer-led Aztec dance group that focuses on conserving their traditions through Danza, songs, drumming, traditional medicine and storytelling. As well as other performances by The Loving Light, Vibrant Hues, and Priscilla Momah throughout the rest of the day.
The wellness vendors who participated at our exhibit included: Shara Baked, Flawless by Queen D, Big Bubbe Energy, Atlas Defense, and Tay’s Secret Garden. Each vendor respectively focused on improving and promoting physical, spiritual, and mental health that is not easily accessible to communities of color and Black and Brown people.
As a Black and Brown team, we know how often we tend to neglect our personal well-being all the time and it becomes a natural occurrence that we learn to accept. But not this time. This was the first Justice for George where the entire team felt like they could take in the surroundings, take time to shop around the galleries, talk to the vendors about their products, support their businesses, and have time to reflect on the importance of having a close-knit community.
Please view our blog post for more of our thoughts on the event!
A Letter to Mr. Floyd
It has been three years since your life was stolen. Although so much time has passed it feels like only yesterday. The scars that have long healed still feel fresh on our skin. We have not moved on. We don't speak your name only once a year on the 25th day of May. We say your name every day because every day your Black life matters. Every day our Black lives matter and we know that the day we stop saying your name we risk replacing it with our own. So we will not stop. When we go to work each day we make sure that everyone we interact with knows your name and your story. We help our community heal from the trauma we experienced fighting for justice for your stolen life. We educate our youth about the danger of forgetting and we help them reimagine a world where Black lives matter, Black lives are represented, and Black lives are uplifted.
Forever in our hearts,
Memorialize the Movement Team