Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Update on community mural in east Oakland

Desi along with Leo, Pancho Pescador, Jane and others are creating a new work of community art almost in my backyard. Part of a citywide initiative called, "Community Rejuvenation Project," which includes neighborhood participation in the mural design and painting and growing community gardens, Desi explained that they went to the store owner and asked permission to paint this historical mural on the outside wall of the store facing Seminary, close to MacArthur Boulevard.

From left to right on the mural, the artists depict ancient history starting with African and Mesoamerican roots. The you have two historical figures a black woman who led a slave revolt and Cuauhtemoc, the last leader of the Aztecs who fought the first Indigenous battles against the incipient European invasion of the Americas.

In the background is the "Black Eagle" of the farmworker movement. Cesar E. Chavez, founder and leader of the United Farm Workers union, designed the logo associated with the UFW. He explained that the "Balck Eagle" was a reminder of the long and deep history of farmworkers and agriculture in the Americas, dating back to the Aztecs and beyond.
On each wing of the farmworker eagle you have Elaine Brown, Black Panther leader, and Inez Garcia, who was raped and in her cause celebre was represented by a Black Panther lawyer in Oakland. Desi explained that the Black Panthers had a historic meeting at Mills College back in their hey-day, which is a few blocks around the corner from the actual mural.

In the center of the mural you have a pre-Colombian Mesoamerican symbol for movement right above the Black Panther party symbol. Then you have images expressing voices being raised for justice and community members expressing their power.

A large image of a woman, acting with fist raised high and exclaiming words, comes from
another photograph that turns out to be that of a Iranian in protest. Behind her you can see images from Alcatraz and Angel Islands, where Asian immigrants were jailed awaiting entry or deportation.

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