Art, Activism, and Black Lives Matter

By Kyra Chambers •  Updated: 06/09/20 •  7 min read

Black Lives Matter.

And art has long been used by different groups and people to create change. 

Kyra The Creative

People fighting for their different causes use art to show the world their perspective. Art translates the negative experiences of the oppressed.

And when the world receives expressed messages through art activism, people are pushed to make a social change.

Because art can connect us all. 

It engages, moves, and motivates people to take action.

Which can be seen throughout history.

Art and History

In World War II, Uncle Sam was drawn on posters saying “We Want You!

Making men think they were going to fight a glorious war.

When in actuality it was a gory and dreadful war Americans didn’t find popular for quite a while.

During the Harlem Renaissance, Black artists made riveting, impactful art that was seen around the world.

And for the first time, people were seeing the life experiences of people of color. Art activism influenced the Civil Rights Movement

And sadly the whole world is still fighting for basic human rights for Black lives.

Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement has gotten global support. After over 400 years of slavery and killing people of color.

The deaths of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the countless number of Black citizens before them.

It is common now for people of color, and anyone who’s a bystander, to record incidents involving police officers.

Art and Activism

Because using video and other social media platforms has become a normal part of our everyday lives.

Video shows those who’ve turned a blind eye to what’s been going on a chance to see for themselves.

See the negative experiences Black people and other minorities have to endure on a daily basis.

Rather than just simply believing stereotypes.

Stereotypes and racism that’s been taught by society and racist relatives.

Art and Activism

Activism through art provides visuals of what people are going through.

The messages and art on signs at protests have always stood out.

Protesters have always found creative ways to express themselves and capture the moment.

Capture what’s going on. While informing those who are viewing the moment what the protest is all about.

Sign-making is a very creative and impactful part of protesting. Signs tell stories. And carry powerful messages protesters are trying to send. 

They show the world something’s wrong. Something needs addressing and fixing.

Art activism is art with a purpose. It isn’t meant to be pretty. Messages are blunt and stand out. And like protesters’ signs, there are no rules.

And activism comes in many different forms. 

There’s:

Signs, photography, and videos are a big part of art activism. 

Photography, which is probably the most well known form of art activism, has been around for a long time. 

Pictures taken at protests provide visuals the rest of the world can see. They capture and document what’s happening.

And although activism is promoted with photography, signs, and other forms of art, they aren’t going to instantly bring about change.

Or justice to the many victims of police brutality.

But what they CAN do is eventually lead to change, more attention, support, and the saving of black lives.

Because art and activism spark emotion within people.

Black in America

People who have the ability to create the change we need. Through sign making, photography, murals, videos, and other creative ways of expression.

Media can create lasting change.

They can push people to vote. Say what needs to be said. Allow others to hear them out. And see life through the eyes of the oppressed. 

People can decide for themselves.

Rather than choosing a mindset based on hand-me-down beliefs and hate.

And while we’ve come a long way with giving a voice to the voiceless. We still have a long way to go. 

We need to come together and make things better. We need to create bigger, lasting changes in our society.

But make no mistake. Without art and activism, many of the changes we have come to know and embrace would’ve NEVER happened.

Which is why there is a need for more Art and Activism.

Because… Black Lives Matter.

The Movement – Black Lives Matter

Art, Activism, and Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter started in 2012. 

It was created after Trayvon Martin was shot and murdered by George Zimmerman. His killing hit home for a lot of people of color. 

Because Trayvon was a kid. And George Zimmerman faced no sentencing or consequences for his actions. Justice was not served. 

If roles were reversed and a Black man killed a white kid, he’d be behind bars.

After his death, many shared their anger, sadness, and frustration on social media. Which led up to the creation of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter in 2013. 

Social media started it all. And it would transform #BlackLivesMatter from a moment to a movement.

Months after the hashtag was created Eric Garner, another Black man, was murdered by police. They killed him using an illegal chokehold while multiple officers were holding him down.

He said over and over “I can’t breathe.” And his death made the movement even bigger. 

Police brutality and the abuse of power was on full display. 

We watched the killing of an innocent Black man. By members of the police force whose salaries are funded and paid for by taxpayer dollars.

People they swore an oath to protect and serve. 

No Justice No Peace

Watching another human plead for his life while cops killed him on video stirred a lot of emotion in communities across the nation.

And it affected non-people of color in a way that helped them make sense of the terrible stories of racism minorities faced.

Police brutality is a national issue.

And while Black citizens have been terrorized for centuries, it can no longer be an issue of separate individuals. 

Record Racism Because Black Lives Matter

The racism, violence and oppression African-Americans face is being seen more and more. And for the first time ever, many are FINALLY listening to the difficulties we’ve endured all along. 

Because proof and evidence of their murders now exist on video.

Video has, and continues to be, a huge part to the Black Lives Matter movement. It captures stories people can share on social media and helps unite as we fight for equal rights.

The Black Lives Matter movement has gone international. Protesters are capturing images and videos of interactions with cops, protesters, looters, and rioters.

And one thing that stands out from the images that capture what’s going on is the creativity of protesters’ signs.

Many are using the last words George Floyd said – “I Can’t Breathe”. 

The last few words he was able to get out. Before being murdered while handcuffed by 4 police officers, 3 of whom were holding him down. One with his knee on his neck.

Many other signs state “Black Lives Matter”, “My Life Matters”.

There are countless drawings and paintings. They show the many victims of injustice. Some are seen holding magazine covers of their faces, and illustrations to promote oneness and unity.

Another example of art activism is when the mayor of D.C. had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on a street leading up to the White House.

Washington D.C. Black Lives Matter

Talk about using your platform!

And before protests began, we were (and still are) dealing with a world health crisis. 

Coronavirus and COVID-19’s still infecting thousands of people.

It may have slowed down but it’s still a very contagious never before seen virus.

But since the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement feels so much bigger than a world health issue.

Not to say COVID-19 isn’t a serious matter. 

The passion against injustice, racism, and police brutality has brought people out of quarantine to protest.

Masks and all. Because we can no longer be silent. Red October Firm will not be silent. And neither should you.

Not while black people are being murdered each and everyday.

Because… Black Lives Matter.

Kyra Chambers

Kyra Chambers, also known as Kyra The Creative is a Photographer, Artist, and Multi-media Designer. She's been taking pictures since 2016. She loves to capture memories for families and impactful images for professionals.

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