On June 22, 2023, Boys Hope Girls Hope visited Memorialize the Movement (MTM) as part of "The Inaugural Envision U Gathering is a Big Success" conference. Boys Hope Girls Hope mission is “to nurture and guide motivated young people in need to become well-educated, career-ready men and women for others”. The group of rising scholars were joined by Legacy Leaders who were college graduates and Boys Hope Girls Hope alumni. One pertinent topic that was discussed was reflections on social justice.
We welcomed the Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars to Northrup King Building (NKB) and gave them a tour of our cold room. At NKB, Leesa Kelly gave a short presentation about how MTM began, what MTM’s mission is, and what are some goals MTM hopes to achieve in the future. It was so thrilling to see the young minds engage with the chapters of the story that Kelly presented. Many scholars also began to ask thoughtful questions midway through the talk and one question that made Kelly pause was “Are you happy?”. The answer was that yes, Kelly is happy, and happiness is a spectrum that is a process to learn to be grateful for what you have while you work on what you want to achieve. The question left us in a moment of reflection as it has never been asked before.
Following the enlightening presentation by Kelly, the scholars were led into our cold room in its raw form, a space where we preserve and collect the protest murals, and store structures for exhibits. Stepping into this dark and archival scene was a mesmerizing and moving experience for the scholars. Throughout the tour, Kelly explained the critical role of the cold room in preserving the murals, methods to sort the murals, and preservation techniques to maintain the growth of non-human life on the plywood boards. MTM has a vast collection of murals that are plywood murals, but also some boards that were used as shields, and a few that were mirrors, or part of a wooden fence. Kelly explained the essence of also preserving and activating these unconventional pieces as it was the first time since the protests that they were exhibited at the Third Annual Justice for George 2023: Breaking Barriers, Building Bonds. Toward the end of the tour, Kelly and a few other students worked together to carry a vandalized mural from the back of the catalog stands. This is one of the breathtakingly painful murals in our catalog because before it was vandalized, it said “STOP MURDERING PEOPLE OF COLOR” and now it says “STOP PEOPLE OF COLOR”. The vandalizer attempted to remove the word murder.
We could see the spark of inspiration in the eyes of the Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars at the end of the visit. Our hope is that we serve as a powerful reminder that every individual has the capability to start making a difference. By honoring and remembering the murder of Mr. George Floyd and acting toward change for social justice and equality for Black and Brown people, the scholars felt encouraged to reflect on their own potential contributions to the fight for justice and equality. Some scholars even came to Kelly at the end and asked about some ways to get involved with MTM’s work and showed their art pieces and discussed possible artistic collaborations in the future.
As the scholars bid ways with MTM, we are confident that the impact of this event and tour of our cold room will resonate with them for years to come. We are honored to be able to share our story and empower tomorrow's leaders to carry on our work and not forget where the memorializing of the movement began.
Here are pictures from the day with the scholars of Boys Hope Girls Hope:
Here is a video from the day with the scholars of Boys Hope Girls Hope: