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 recognizes the Black women who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom. With love as a guide, they served the people, body and soul. Like those women the work serves as a channel for knowledge and an instrument for community healing and building. People of all colors, ethnicities, genders and ages have been brought to tears upon arrival and laying eyes on the mini marvel. Now visitors from all over come just to document their experience and engage in meaningful dialogue with the home's owner and neighbors.This remarkable panoramic painting dedicated to remarkable women has quickly become a powerful centerpiece in the community. It is a place to gather and remember the past but it is also a place where we can look forward to the future with hope and with determination to advance their legacy.
In honor of The Black woman Is God, an art piece that is so unapologetically huge, because of its sheer size, one can’t look at it without looking up to Black women- it moves us and reminds us that they are to be celebrated
Feel the intensity of their love, sit at their feet or let them tower behind you in power just as they so bravely stood behind the people decades ago with fierce love and loyalty
A lot of work went into prepping the house for what was to come- some of the requirements needed for the preparation might surprise you.
In July of 2020 we began the removal and repair of dry rot, rerouting gutters and water routes, removing fences, leveling the sidewalk, then painting and priming the wall.
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, mesmerizing expression of pride and esteem that increases the visibility of Black Women. A proverbial tip of the hat to the #SayHerName Movement, The Mural reads like an ode with the names of nearly 300 Women in the BPP installed to date, the most comprehensive collection of names ever catalogued.
First draft of the West Oakland Mural Project by James Shields August 2020
Drafts 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