Former Mayor Claire Mack reminds us that in 1969, when our King Center mural by Yvonne Arlene Williams was unveiled it was met with extreme controversy. Today it's embraced as a proud symbol of San Mateo's black history. It's been almost 25 years since it was remastered (by Leo J. Jacques in 1996) and today it's faded and worn by the years.
On Monday, our council will consider permitting a mural with the words "Black Lives Matter." While I appreciate the intent, I question if this is a "message" of anti-racism that is disconnected from the practice of anti-racism - listening to affected community members, uplifting under-represented perspectives and experiences, and working in coalition.
What if our community came together to raise funds to remaster our King Center mural? A mural by a black artist depicting the collective vision and power of black youth.
What if we partnered with a local leader like Juanita More? The JM! PRIDE MURAL PROJECT has driven artistic beautification in SF neighborhoods and raised thousands of dollars for trans youth. What if we commission a black local artist like Serge Gay Jr. to create a piece at City Hall?
I call on our community to harness this moment to focus our intentions and our actions beyond the performative and symbolic. Let's honor black lives by honoring black artists.