In honor of Black History Month, our street art hunters have compiled a selection of murals that celebrate Black history, community, and culture.MoreLess
Obey was asked to paint at the Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School, and got a crew together to help him visualise the powerful person the school was named after. Her creative spirit, her writing and role as a civil rights activist provided a rich well of inspiration to Obey. Out of her many different quotes, the artist chose to write “Hate has created a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet,” a grounding message for the school’s students.
In 2016, timed to coincide with MLK Day, Madsteez was enlisted to paint an inspiring tribute at an elementary school that bears the civil rights icon's name. A fitting tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most well-known leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.
Painted in remembrance of Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna (Gigi) over 7 days in all weathers after their passing on January 26, 2020. Bryant helped the Lakers win five NBA championships, and was an 18-time All-Star. After his passing, the NBA renamed their MVP Award to the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player Award, in Bryant's honor.
This huge mural on the back of the building of Wish Gallery, a gathering place for local artists and creators, features rappers André 3000 and Big Boi, better known as Outkast. They are often regarded as one of the most influential hip hop duos of all time, due to their alternative and trailblazing take on hip hop culture and influencing public opinion.
Across the street from this stylish barbershop is a tribute to five Civil Rights Leaders. Depicted: Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King and John Lewis. The mural was created in connection with Super Bowl 53.
Portraying John Lewis giving his historic speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Lewis was only 23 at the time. Next to the mural is a part of his speech featured: “I appeal to all of you to get into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until the revolution of 1776 is complete.”
Jean-Michel Basquiat first achieved fame as part of SAMO, a graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s, where rap, punk, and street art coalesced into early hip-hop music culture. At 22, he was the youngest ever to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York. The phrases behind him are slogans as used by his SAMO partner Al Diaz.
Born and raised in Crenshaw, LA Nipsey Hussle was an American rapper, activist, and entrepreneur. At 14 years old he joined a notorious gang in LA, only to leave at the age of 19. He then focussed on music, community work, finding solutions and being an inspiration to young black men growing up around gang culture. Hussle became known for his numerous mixtapes, the last of which rapper Jay-Z bought 100 copies of for $100 each. He received two posthumous Grammy Awards.
Two great cultural icons, honored by Mel Waters. Nina Simone, born in North Carolina, was an American singer, songwriter and civil rights activist. She recorded over 40 albums and her songs often reflected struggles dealing with racial inequality. Louis Armstrong was an influential figure in jazz. His rich, recognizable raspy voice and charismatic stage presence made him reach international fame in a very broad audience, something that was difficult for Black men in those days.
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital is a 131-bed public community hospital in the Willowbrook neighborhood of southern Los Angeles County, California. A mural of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. graces the side of a building at the CDU Los Angeles campus, right across the street of the hospital. Martin Luther King is known for his incredible contributions to the American Civil Rights Movement from 1955 up until his assassination in 1968.
“Inspiration Alley” was commissioned by Russ Stoddard in 2020, and derived its name from the iconic outdoor gallery Freak Alley a few blocks away. Stoddard wanted to create a space to share the stories of inspirational activists in the hopes of inspiring others. Current profiles include: Colin Kaepernick, Maya Moore, Dolores Huerta, and Malala Yousafzai.
On Staten Island, Damien Mitchell has painted another portrait of Rep. John Lewis, who spent over six decades fighting for equal rights. "Make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble." This mural is close to a series of other great murals in "Artists Alley" at Richmond Hood.
In 2016, president Obama started a campaign to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bills, a process the Biden administration is expected to complete. Harriet Tubman was a 19th-century abolitionist and political activist who escaped slavery herself, then took part in the rescues of hundreds of enslaved people, using the network of activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.
A tribute to none other than Malcolm X - an African American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist. The quote reads "Education is our passport to the future. For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." The quote alongside the portrait spoke volumes to the artist himself - who grew up in LA and Detroit. Gangs were a part of his life until attending University of Pennsylvania where he changed his life path.
Made in 2004, this mural is dedicated to Herman Wrice. He was a popular community organizer and creator of Wrice Process - where residents of the neighborhood directly confronted drug dealers in the area. His famous saying was "Up with hope. Down with Dope." He also created MAD or Mantua Against Drugs and led marches to create a safer and drug-free neighborhood. Now his son, Tony Wrice, helps carry on his father's legacy.
This portrait of J. Kenneth Lee, a civil rights activist, is visible on the front left of the building. Born in 1923, Lee helped to chart the course of civil rights in the US. He was one of the first two black men admitted to the University of North Carolina and helped to open doors for others who followed him into the law profession in the state. He was the legal counsel for over 1,700 civil rights lawsuits. Bustart painted the black and white image with a paint roller.
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) was a boxer, philanthropist and social activist who is universally regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Ali became an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 and the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964.