PHOENIX — After being denied the opportunity to paint a mural on a street in downtown Phoenix, a Valley artist resolved to oversee the creation of 28 murals in 28 days to commemorate Black History Month.
Gizette Knight was denied the chance to paint a Black Lives Matter mural along 3rd Street between Jefferson and Jackson streets by the City of Phoenix. That was the catalyst for creating the Black History Month Mural Project.
Tuesday marked the beginning of the second year of the project. A kick-off celebration was held at Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Mercury and Phoenix Suns.
“My overall goal for this project has always been to empower my people,” Knight said to an audience that gathered for the kick-off. “But also, to educate all people.”
Across the greater Phoenix area, artists have been working on murals to celebrate Black history and the people and events that helped shape America. Knight’s vision is that murals celebrating Black History will pop up all over the Valley one day.
“Exposure matters. Exposure to multiculturism should not be dictated by your area code, income, city limits, or willful ignorance.” Knight told the crowd.
“I Am Black History”
The first of the 2022 Black History Month Mural Project’s murals was then unveiled on the west side of Footprint Center. The Mural is called “I Am Black History." It features Black athletes of Valley fame and two children who can look up to those who came before them.
“It’s just all about the past, the present, and the future and learning about their own history and being inspired by that,” said Jennifer White, one of the artists who created the mural.
Playing a greater role in the community
Each mural is designed for viewers to think about the accomplishment those enshrined in the mural achieved and to take a close look at their own life to see how they can make a positive impact on their community.
“I challenge you today to get out in your communities and know that each and every one of you has a voice and each and every one of you matters,” Sandra Bassett, President of the West Valley Arts Council told the crown. “And doggonit, we all need to be represented today.”
A documentary on last year’s mural project will be screened on Friday, Feb. 11 at Luna Culture Lab. An open conversation with the filmmakers, artists, and community leaders is planned after the screening.
Gizette Knight’s Shining Light Foundation is organizing the mural project.
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