Newark’s Black Lives Matter Murals: A Design Process & Collaborative Action Framework

Image: Abolish White Supremacy, Newark. c/o Isaac Jiminez, DreamPlay Media

Express Newark

On Saturday, June 27th, the words “ABOLISH WHITE SUPREMACY” were painted in bright yellow 25ft high letters on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard between the Essex County Historic Courthouse and Veterans’ Courthouse. On Halsey Street, east of the Rutgers campus, the words “ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER” takes up another city block. 

“With these two statements, we are shifting the narrative and promoting thoughtful reflection and continued dialogue. In order to say Black Lives Matter, we have to Abolish White Supremacy,” said Arts and Cultural Affairs Director fayemi shakur. “Through collective art-making, we were able to provide a space for safety, joy, and community engagement.”

These powerful statements launched the City of Newark’s social justice public art initiative in collaboration with the Arts, Culture and Media Graphic Design Program at Rutgers University-Newark (ACM-GD), many community partners, and several well-known city muralists and organizers. 

“Poetry, music, graphic design, and public art are all public avenues to have our voices heard. Newark is a movement City as well as a City of artists,” said Mayor Ras Baraka when he came to not only witness the project but also took up a roller and put down a few coats of the yellow paint. “The convergence of art and protest is an age-old practice, especially pronounced in African-American culture.”