Inspiring the community, one mural at a time! Philly is one the of most diverse cities in America, with a demographic of 44.1% Black people in the city. Talented artists have painted the town to honor their community, ancestors, role models, and heritage, to inspire and showcase these brave voices to the city. Here, we have gathered some of the most remarkable murals.
In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, three murals by artist Russell Craig are on the three outside walls of the Municipal Services Building. Each mural represents Black people, Indigenous people, and POC to bring awareness to multiculturalism in the United States as well as denouncing the racism and injustices experienced by these people.
Unveiled in February 2021, this mural showcases the women who participated in the infamous 1960’s Philadelphia civil rights group, The Freedom Fighters. With this mural artists Felix St. Fort and Gabe Tiberino wish to “connect the youth of today with the civil rights and voter registration work of the young people from over 50 years ago.”
The phrase Stay Golden “is reflective of the unifying usage of the color gold in African Diasporic communities.” Indeed, this powerful expression painted on such a large surface is to celebrate the impactful spirit that Black and Brown people have. The fist in the air is an iconic symbol of resistance to fight for what is right and not backing down until change is made. This symbol is prominent during racial injustice protests.
Amy Sherald, the talented artist behind the iconic Michelle Obama portrait that hung in the National Portrait Gallery in DC, strikes again with a beautiful portrait of Najee S. Najee is a Philadelphian who participates in the Mural Arts Philadelphia educational program, and was chosen to pose, challenging the “deas about identity and the public gaze, asking the questions: ‘Who is allowed to be comfortable in public spaces? Who is represented in art? How can one woman’s portrait begin to shift that experience for others?’ ” The light blue background with the yellow hat creates contrast with the otherwise black and white colors used for the jacket and for the skin color which is Sherald’s artistic signature.
This mural honors veterans and their service to our country. With this mural, talented artist James Burns is “opening up conversations about veterans’ experiences, expressing their pride in service, and honoring their incredible resilience.” Featured in the mural are Corporal Michael J. Crescenz, project participants, as well as the artist’s father who is a Vietnam War veteran.
This triptych mural by Walé Oyéjidé, commemorates the cultural identities of African Diasporas. The goal of this mural was to answer the question “How do we create our own cultural identities?”. Indeed, painted in a Renaissance style, this three mural series displays different cultural subjects of African descent, that demonstrate the rich cultures of our African neighbors.
This remarkable mural is in honor of the civil rights activist Octavius Catto who strongly advocated the right to vote for Black Americans. To honor him, artists Willis “Nomo” Humphrey and Keir Johnston painted this mural in the neighborhood where he lived when he was an educator at an all-Black folk school in the city. Painted on the Universal Charter School is symbolic as well; this kindergarten school is forming the citizens of tomorrow and this mural is a reminder of the history of our country and that the future can be changed.
John Coltrane, the iconic Jazz saxophonist has made an impact on Philadelphia’s music history, so artist Ernel Martinez dedicated a mural to him. According to the Mural Arts Philadelphia website” he is an important reminder of the power that one individual can have in their community.” Jazz is an important part of Philly’s culture, and that is partly thanks to Coltrane.