The Racial Justice Poster Project is one way Akonadi Foundation honors and inspires racial justice movement building in Oakland and around the world. We believe that cultural strategies play a powerful role in changing hearts and minds, and are important and essential elements of movement building. The Racial Justice Poster Project builds on the legacy of political posters as an integral part of social movements for more than a century. Each year, Akonadi Foundation commissions an artist to create a poster to reflect a vision of a racially just world.
In 2008, Akonadi Foundation distributed our first Racial Justice poster on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which commemorates the Sharpeville massacre. On March 21, 1960, the movement against apartheid was spreading as blacks across South Africa began demonstrating against “pass laws” that required them to carry identity cards. In the township of Sharpeville, a huge crowd of black Africans gathered peacefully outside a police station, singing and subjecting themselves to arrest for failing to carry cards. The police opened fire, killing 69 people, among them 10 children.
Today, in the U.S. and internationally, the structures of racism live on with devastating impacts: in the redevelopment policies that destroy and displace communities of color; in public school funding tied to property values; in denial of jobs to people struggling to escape the prison-industrial complex; and in immigration policy that criminalizes people of color trying to survive global exploitation. Each day, the dream of racial justice is born again through new campaigns to challenge the racialized distribution of power and resources, in new policy ideas that expose and address racial inequity, and through new expressions of the voices and hearts of people forging a just world.
The 2017 RJPP artist is Tomahawk Greyeyes, a Bay Area based interdisciplinary artist from the Navajo Nation, raised throughout the state of Arizona.