In observance of March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Akonadi Foundation presents the 2022 Racial Justice Poster, Women of the Black Panther Party Mural, curated by Jilchristina Vest of the West Oakland Mural Project with muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith and Black Panther Party member Ericka Huggins.
Akonadi Foundation distributed our first Racial Justice poster in 2008 to commemorate March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day honors the Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960, when the South African anti-apartheid movement rose up in resistance against `pass’ laws. As part of the government’s efforts to segregate and control Black South Africans, these laws required Black South Africans to carry passbooks, or identity cards, at all times. On this day in the Sharpeville township, as movement leaders, elders, and children gathered in peaceful protest, police opened fire and killed 69 people, including 10 children.
This year, we also honor the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, which has inspired generations of movement leaders and instilled a sense of Black pride and power around the world. “The Women of the Black Panther Party Mural” is the only public art installation in the world dedicated to the women of the Black Panther Party. Their service is part of the revolutionary legacy and leadership of Black women that Akonadi Foundation seeks to uplift. While philanthropy has a long way to go to sufficiently resource Black women’s leadership, we want to take this moment to call for more support, recognition, and resources for Black women and their vital contributions to liberation and racial justice.
Through this year’s Racial Justice Poster Project, we pay tribute to Oakland’s visionary artists and the work of our grantee partner, the West Oakland Mural Project, to preserve this important history for generations to come.
We hope that you’ll help us spread the word about the poster project through your social media channels. Please share a picture of yourself with the poster, using the hashtag #RJPP22 and tag us on Twitter at @akonadi_oakland and Facebook and Instagram at @AkonadiFoundation.
This is the most meaningful project I’ve had the chance to work on in my career. It is a living monument that keeps history, legacy and radiates power through the neighborhood and community. It’s our job as public artists to plant seeds of inspiration, keep history alive, and tell untold stories like this one.”– Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith, Muralist
Jilchristina Vest’s Curator Statement
I created the West Oakland Mural Project in the summer of 2020 during the world wide uprising for Black lives. With everything that was happening, I needed to create a space to heal and reflect. I needed to create a space to honor Black women in a way that felt empowering for me and my community. I decided to install a 2,000-sq-ft-mural on the side and back of my house in West Oakland. Even before I knew what I wanted the mural to look like, I knew what I wanted people to feel when they saw it – to feel joy, feel strong, feel seen, feel proud, feel inspired. I chose to honor the #SayHerName Movement and the invisibility of Black women and to honor the Women of The Black Panther Party. The journey was arduous and challenging, but more than that, it was healing and joyful. I am a different person on the other side of this project – a better person. This mural has brought the community out, brought tears, smiles and laughter, started conversations and debates, prompted hi-fives, fist bumps, hugs, and exclamations of “I’m Black and I’m Proud and All Power To The People!” By honoring Black women and our unique role in the history of Oakland and the world, we solidify our place, our permanency, our belonging.
The Mural House is a place where people, specifically young Black women and girls, can come and see an empowering reflection of themselves. They can stand in front of it, look up and feel seen, acknowledged, worthy of honor, all things that are necessary for mental, emotional health and healing. Unlike the many murals depicting the murder of Black and Brown people, I needed this piece to hit differently. This mural does not depict Black grief, but evokes Black joy and pride. It does not depict the oppressed, but celebrates the freedom fighters. It does not depict what is being done to us but what it looks like when we do for ourselves.
This mural is on my private home and is a permanent public art installation, the first permanent art installation in the world honoring The Black Panther Party, and the only installation honoring the women of The Black Panther Movement. #LookUpToBlackWomen