PHOTO: Community artwork fills Central Park as the Black Lives Matter Solidarity Space grows.
By Gracie Hartsough,
Across the U.S., people are still discovering ways to cope with the transformative spike in the Black Lives Matter movement that ignited in May. Davis High alumni Kate and Sule Mellon-Anibaba took the initiative to create a BLM Solidarity Space in Central Park.
As an interracial couple in the Davis community, Kate and Sule have been participating in the BLM movement for many years and strive to ensure that their two young biracial children will feel welcome in Davis.
“It’s always been painful, and it’s always been affecting my family,” Kate said. “We heal and we connect through art.”
Kate created the original artwork for the launch of the Solidarity Space: three large paintings honoring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Since then, hundreds of other posters, signs and original artwork have been added by members from the community. The space quickly took on a life of its own and has succeeded in amplifying the voices of people from different backgrounds to come together and celebrate black lives.
“Being an artist, the only thing I could think of was to take that space [Central Park] to have as a place to mourn and talk about these really important issues,” Kate said. “The hope is that the Solidarity Space inspires people to work toward a more just world.”
“The space represents a place where folks can come together to process and grow,” Sule said.
Kate and Sule hope the Solidarity Space will be a catalyst for social activism and a space to inspire community members to take the steps to make impactful changes in their daily lives.
“For a town that claims to be very liberal, very inclusive and very welcoming, Davis knows how to talk the talk, but we’re not very good at walking the walk,” Sule said.
Sule hopes to see a future generation that feels a greater sense of belonging and inclusion.
Recently, the City of Davis Arts and Cultural Affairs program has approved funding to support anti-racism and awareness training offered for local leadership, artists, government and the community. They will also be creating a permanent art installation celebrating black lives and are collaborating with the Mellon-Anibaba family.
DHS senior Maya Bailey spoke at several protests and events during the summer, including the Solidarity Space.
“In Davis, there’s this idea that we’re immune to racism and to bigotry, and that’s just not true,” Bailey said.
Bailey agrees that Central Park was an ideal location for the space because people of many different beliefs gather there, and the space has inspired others to go out and conduct their own research.
Like Bailey, many other DHS students felt that the Solidarity Space was a step in the right direction and hope the city will continue to do more. While the space was great for raising awareness and creating community, many people want to see new city legislation, policy and reform in addition to the art.
“Art is a wonderful way for people to express their emotions,” senior Kavi McKinney said. “I want to make sure that the message of the Solidarity Space translates into actual reform in the Davis community and government.”