Greenpeace USA asked me to design and paint a banner for them to unveil after the Derek Chauvin murder trial. They hung a Black Lives Matter banner a year prior, after the murder of George Floyd, and wanted a more artist Black Lives Matter banner this time.
I painted an African mud cloth pattern, on a 15' x20' banner, as the background with the words “All Black Lives Matter” to elevate the importance of all Black lives — trans, women, dark-skinned, LGBTQ+, disabled, sex workers, and even the ones that have broken the law — matter. There is so much more work to be done to dismantle white supremacy and overhaul the systems that allow for racist police and vigilante violence against Black, Brown, and indigenous people in the first place.
Bògòlanfini is a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud. It has an important place in traditional Malian culture and has, more recently, become a symbol of Malian cultural identity. Chris Seydou, a Malian fashion designer, is widely credited with bringing African mud cloth into the modern fashion arena. Since the 80s, it has become a symbol of the cultural identity of Mali both at home and abroad, particularly in America. It is known as mud cloth and is seen as representative of African American culture.
Social justice is environmental justice. We must speak out in the face of white supremacy, systemic injustice, and their lethal consequences. Fighting for a peaceful future includes speaking out against the unjust, racist, and systemic violence facing Black people in the US.
Thank you to everyone on the team who made getting this banner made on time possible: Kennedy Trusty, Karmyn Pittman, Rachel Christensen, and everyone at Greenpeace USA.
Design: The Artist Oliver James
Photography/Videography: Oliver James