Just as the house has been transformed many times over the years, the mural drafts have transformed many times over the months. The first concept draft and color pallet were created by James Shields in July of 2020 and the final draft was designed and created by Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith in January 2021.
Jilchristina Vest, the homeowner and curator of The Women of The Black Panther Party Mural was born in Chicago 1966. At 19, she moved to The Bay and in 1995, after earning degrees in Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and Multicultural Education from San Francisco State University and USF, Jil began her search for a home in West Oakland. She chose this area because West Oakland has a powerful Black community, is rich in history, success and activism and because it's the home of the Black Panther Party. In 2000 the dream of living in West Oakland came true and she found the perfect house and the dream did not stop there.
20 years later, in response to the continued violence and systemic oppression of BIWOC, and as a result of the chronic blindness towards and seeming invisibility of Black Women, Jilchristina hatched a plan to put Black Women on center stage and The Mural idea was born. Not only is the mural meant to be a thank you to the Women of Black Panther Party but it is also meant as a gift and thank you to her friends and the entire community. without whom, she would not be.
The image of the mural began to form and the next step was to ask an elder, ask a Panther. Having shared community with Black Panther leader Ericka Huggins for many years, that was the first call. In the making of this massive project, it was imperative that the women of the Black Panther Party be the ones that informed the content and message, and that it accurately tells their story and reflects their experiences.
Ms. Huggins added that it needed to be a space to highlight the Survival Programs and pay honor to the Rank & File women, the comrades who have lived in the shadows all this time.
So, between the curator and the mentor the design for the Mural was born: Brown skinned women, Panther Blue, the names of the women, the survival programs, joy, love, and motherhood.
August 2020 Prepped and ready for the Mural