Black Historic Murals as are more than just Street art and graffiti. They capture a unique perspective on Black culture that we can celebrate during Black History Month. Street art is often seen as a populist art form, visible to anyone and everyone passing by, not shut away in a gallery with an admission fee or restricted viewing times. The form lends itself to bold statements about important social issues because it is generally regarded as being produced by the people, for the people.
Black History Month is being celebrated across the nation this month, and street artists in major cities and smaller towns are taking the opportunity to create masterpieces reflecting the Black experience in America. They honor Black icons and commemorate important cultural moments and historical figures. Inspiring, raw, celebratory and though-provoking, the range of street murals on display are representative of the range of important Black historical events and the richness of Black culture in America.
Mural Arts Philadelphia
Philadelphia, also known as “The City of Murals,” is home to Mural Arts Philadelphia, a group committed to supporting mural and street artists. Mural Arts is hosting a Black History Month tour, showcasing some of the most iconic murals in Philadelphia. These murals were created by Black artists and they depict important moments and people in Black History. Highlights include Staircases and Mountaintops: Ascending Beyond the Dream, which depicts Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King walking in the iconic voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Also included are Remembering a Forgotten Hero—honoring civil rights activist Octavius V. Catto, who was assassinated for advocating for voting rights for Black citizens—and The Tuskegee Airmen: They Met the Challenge—paying respect to the first Black military airmen in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Black History Matters, Phoenix Arizona
In Phoenix, Arizona, several artists are completing a project comprised of 28 murals for the 28 days of Black History Month. Each mural will honor 3 Black historical figures, and the entire project will contain 84 historical and cultural icons to be celebrated for the whole month. The artist spearheading the project, Gizette Knight, stated in an interview with The Arizona Republic, that her intention is to honor, “those unsung heroes that paved the way in the Black community because our history is very rich.” Subjects of the planned murals include Garett Morgan, inventor of the three-position traffic signal and Oliver Brown, whose case Brown v. Board is the seminal case that ended legal racial segregation in public schools.
Street murals and graffiti celebrating Black History Month are popular internationally as well, and pieces from other countries that catch our eye include the Long live the dead queen series by Mary Sibande in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Jackie Robinson from Fluke, produced by Montreal-based art collective Ashop Productions.