Designed by Audrey Chan, the Artwork Depicts Activists Past and Present
LOS ANGELES — Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California unveils a massive mural that in the tradition of public artworks depicts major figures in the fight for civil liberties and civil rights in Southern California.
Designed by artist-in-residence Audrey Chan, the 5,500-square foot, lushly colored mural covers the entire front of the ACLU SoCal’s headquarters building in downtown Los Angeles. It features not only monumental depictions of people represented or otherwise associated with the organization, it also includes passages from the ACLU’s bedrock document — the U.S. Constitution — and other messages.
Chan, who designed public artworks including murals for L.A. Metro’s Little Tokyo/Arts District Station now under construction, works from a strong sense of community. She worked with community partners Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, People’s City Council, TransLatin@ Coalition, and Ktown for All on the ACLU SoCal mural that she entitled, “The Care We Create.”
“The mural lifts up Southern Californians — past and present — who have fought for a better tomorrow,” Chan said, “by exercising their First Amendment rights, challenging unjust systems of policing and abuses of state power, and demanding respect for the rights of Black and Brown people, immigrants, people unhoused, the LGBTQ community, and youths.”
The mural sits directly across from an unmarked building that houses the Los Angeles Police Protective League (the police association) that has so often railed against the ACLU SoCal’s support of Black Lives Matter and other community groups opposing the unwarranted use of deadly police force.
Patrisse Khan-Cullors, who co-founded the Black Lives Matter Global Network and originated the now world-famous hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, is one of the people depicted in the mural.
“This monumental work reminds us of the power of art to celebrate and galvanize communities at a time when there are forces, even just across the street, that move to divide us,” said Khan-Cullors. “The mural lifts our hearts and reassures us that they will not succeed.”
The ACLU SoCal does not hide behind an anonymous facade. The ACLU SoCal openly fights for justice in the courts, governmental seats of power, and the streets.
“As reflected in the mural, the work of the ACLU SoCal is to create the just society and world we want to live in,” said ACLU SoCal Executive Director Hector Villagra, “and this will only be possible when we protect and promote our rights and dignity, together.”
People depicted in the mural include:
- Dr. Melina Abdullah: Educator, activist and co-founder and leader of Black Lives Matter - L.A.
- Hector Barajas: Major figure in the deported veterans movement. The ACLU SoCal helped win his return to the U.S. and citizenship.
- Jose Bello: Activist and student arrested by ICE shortly after reciting an anti-ICE poem he wrote.
- Theo Henderson: Host and producer of the podcast “We the Unhoused” while he himself is unhoused.
- Patrisse Khan-Cullors: Author, activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
- Ramona Ripston: Executive director of the ACLU SoCal for four decades during which she built the organization into an advocacy powerhouse.
- Bamby Salcedo: Transgender advocate and president and CEO of TransLatin@ Coalition.
- Upton Sinclair: Activist, author and founder of the ACLU SoCal in 1923.
- Phal Sok: Activist and community organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition.
- Ali Vayeghan: During Trump’s illegal Muslim ban, the ACLU SoCal won a landmark order allowing him into the U.S.
Installation of the mural was done by the LA Art Collective and the Wilson Cetina Group.