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Decatur contributes $5K to anti-racism art project

By Zachary Hansen, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Decatur will contribute $5,000 to an “Art for the People” public art project proposed by the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights to capture the story of indigenous and African people.

Details of the format and location for the art are not settled, but plans are to install it in the Beacon Hill community just southwest of Decatur’s square. The project comes on the heels of the removal of a Confederate monument from downtown Decatur square, where it had stood since 1908.

“In an attempt to recognize this progress while still pushing forward, Beacon Hill’s vision for the Art for the People Project will provide Decatur with a new piece of public art that properly reflects the city’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” according to a proposal for the art presented to commissioners in August. Several students from Decatur High School are being credited with propelling the project forward.

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“We wish for the art to tell a story: one of Indigenous people being violently forced off the land that Africans were then brought to work on,” the proposal said. “… Beacon Hill believes that the stories of Indigenous and African peoples are crucially intertwined and for too long, these histories have not only been treated as separate but have been suppressed and ignored.”

Commissioner Tony Powers said during the virtual meeting, “I am excited about where we are and the engagement that our young people have in these unprecedented times with both the pandemic and reconciliation.”

The Decatur City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve funds for the art. The money will come from a $50,000 “anti-racism budget” the city established in June to directly address racism in the community.

Mayor Patti Garrett said she met with members of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights to discuss the project.

The human rights group said it is partnering with Decatur Makers and the Decatur Arts Alliance to facilitate the artwork’s design and creation. The project is anticipated to cost about $40,000 and be unveiled during next year’s Black History Month.

A GoFundMe page was also created to raise some of the remaining funds. As of Thursday afternoon, it had raised more than $2,400.

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