Youth of Allen Temple and Iglesia Bautista de Allen Temple partnered with the youth of 67 Sueños to plan and paint a mural entitled “Black and Brown Unity“, which is on the 86th Avenue Wall of the Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr. Training Academy Building.
This project was made possible by the outreach of the American Friends Service Committee’s “67 Sueños” project. The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker religious organization “that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action”.
The Black/Brown Unity Mural is the product of a youth led process of participatory action research in the community, listening and brainstorm sessions, and finally five weeks of hard work painting the mural itself collectively.
The mural promotes unity among Black & Brown people in our East Oakland Community, says Allen Temple’s Senior Pastor J. Alfred Smith Jr.
“It depicts the beautiful, distinguished heritages in which both groups are rooted,” he said, “and it lifts up our shared concern for the destruction brought upon both groups by the twin systems of mass detention and mass incarceration which feed the monstrous prison industrial complex.”
“However, the painful depictions are overpowered by the images of hope and resilience, which inspire us to overcome,” he said
According to Project Director Pablo Paredes:
“The mural is large and covers many themes, concepts and details. In general, the idea was to portray the legacies of pride, resistance and culture that Black and Brown people come from on the ends of the left and right end of the mural,” he said, explaining that the mural includes portraits of the late great Maya Angelou, Pastor Emeritus J. Alfred Smith, Sr., a Zulu Warrior, a Black Panther Party member, and an actual black panther.
Along the border of the mural, we placed Indigenous Meso-American and African symbols with a legend explaining their meanings on the adjacent wall.
“The mural includes painful images – of family separation, police violence, incarceration, alcohol, slavery and wage slavery,” Paredes said. “ It also contains symbols of resistance, power and beauty such as the Scarab Beetle and the Monarch Butterfly, the Sankofa, and the Hummingbird.
“We thank all of the youth who participated in this project,” said. “We are extremely grateful to Pablo Paredes, lead artist Francisco Sanchez, Minister Isai Hurtado, Trustees Gwendolyn Thomas-Knight and Robert Turner, the Rev. Daniel Buford and all of the adults who supported the youth in bringing this project to completion.”