In June 2020, in the midst of the largest global social justice rebellion in history, the journey of creating The #sayhername Women of the Black Panther Party Mural began. Finished just in time for 2021's Juneteenth weekend, it is now complete and is a wonder to behold.
(photo by Kerri Gaston)
The mural celebrates the Black women who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom, and with love as a guide, served the people, body and soul. It is also a tool for teaching, community building and healing. People of all colors, ethnicities, genders, and ages have been brought to tears upon arrival while taking photos and videos, speaking to the homeowner and neighbors, and reading the names of the women. The mural has quickly become a powerful centerpiece of this community, a destination for meeting, gathering, remembering, and looking forward with hope and determination to advance the women’s legacy.
This mural is honoring The Black woman Is God. It reminds us the Black woman is to be celebrated. An art piece so unapologetically huge, one can’t look at it without looking up to Black women. Stand in front of the women and feel the power and the love.
In July 2020 work on the house began -- removing and repairing dry rot, rerouting gutters and water routes, removing fences and leveling the sidewalk, and painting and priming the wall. Things you would never think of were required to prep this house for the mural.
This mural is the only public art installation in the world dedicated to the Women of the Black Panther Party (WBPP) and the 60+ Survival Programs they created. Located in West Oakland, CA, the home of the Black Panther Party during the ‘60s and ‘70s, it is a massive, colorful and mesmerizing expression of pride, honor and the visibility of Black Women. As well, in honor of the #SayHerName Movement, the mural includes names of women in the BPP – at nearly 300 names installed to date the most comprehensive collection of names ever cataloged.
First draft of the West Oakland Mural Project by James Shields August 2020
Draft of the process by James Shields- August 2020
Inspiration: murals on Broadway in Downtown Oakland, CA
Final Draft January 2021- Art by Rachel Wolfe Goldsmith inspired by Stephen Shames Photography
Artwork by Panther M. Gayle Asali Dickson
Artwork and color palette draft- James Shields