After months of brainstorming and painting, youths were finally able to explain to the community what each of their images meant. Spanning the entire front wall, the overall theme of the mural is What Community Means to Me.
“My piece is an eye with different phrases inside of it, which symbolized the different things I see in my community that make me want to cry,” explained Stephanie Collie, a 15-year-old freshman at Miami Jackson and a YAC member.
Javaris Benson, an 18-year-old senior from Miami Northwestern who is also a member of the council, drew hearts with ropes, pathways and different messages in them. “My piece means to believe in yourself when nobody else does and to be self-motivated,” Benson explained.
The youth were guided through the mural process by Kyle Holbrook, executive director of the MLK Mural Project, which does murals throughout the country. Holbrook said he was extremely proud of the group.
“This is a great group. They did really well and I enjoyed working with them. They are so talented,” Holbrook said.
The mural also included images such as a rose growing from concrete; a half-and-half man; portraits of youth and families; mother earth; wisdom pathways; TACOLCY’s history; and a memorial portrait of Miquelle Whisby, an 18-year-old classmate who was shot and killed last year.
Whisby’s mother, Loretta Crews, was present at the unveiling along with other family members. “I am so thankful to TACOLCY for doing this for my son. It looks just like him. He is gone, but he is with us forever,” Crews said.
This unveiling marked the end of the Youth Café Week, during which the YAC was re-introduced to the community. It was the second in a series of events that will be hosted by the council at TACOLCY. Upcoming projects include a monthly Let ’em Know Café Evening, a College Readiness Fair and a Students’ Rights Workshop.
For information on the YAC contact Isheka Harrison at 305-751-1295, ext. 139 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: COURTESY OF TACOLCY
LEADERSHIP: Members of the Youth Advisory Council from TACOLCY look on as spoken word artist Calvin Early performs a piece during their mural unveiling.