By Agrippina Fadel
The Social Justice Wall in Tamarac Village will include national heroes and highlight their contributions to equality in communities across the nation.
City leaders unanimously supported the conceptual drawing of the art at the May 11 meeting. Designed through the public art initiative, the wall includes portraits and quotes from social justice leaders.
The concept includes abolitionist, Harriet Tubman, who used the Underground Railroad to rescue dozens of enslaved people; the leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., presidential advisor, and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who opened one of the first schools for African American girls in Daytona, Florida; James F. Sistrunk, the first black medical doctor to practice in Broward County; 35th President John F. Kennedy, and Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball.
George Gadson, Tamarac’s art consultant, said Tampa-based artist Michael Parker attended local events, connected with Tamarac youth groups, and asked the commission’s advice on what social justice heroes should be a part of the art installation.
Gadson said Parker took all the ideas and input into consideration and used his expertise to craft the art concept.
“There are not a lot of artists who do the memorial walls the way he does. This is an exceptional art piece,” he added.
Gadson said the Tamarac Village project also includes the colorful mosaic on the amphitheater wall, created by Cynthia Fisher. “The city and the residents will be very proud of the amphitheater. Fisher is a phenomenal artist,” he said.
Maxine Calloway, the community development director, said Parker’s contract to create the Social Justice Wall is $100,000. The project is paid for by the Public Art Fund, which is funded by new development in Tamarac.
She said the Social Justice Wall idea was born in 2020 when the city considered installing a sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. in the same area.
“We learned about the wall at Tamarac Village that was proposed to be built to cover the splash pad equipment, so we went to the city with an idea to do something more elaborate and use the wall for the art,” Calloway added.
Vice Mayor Mike Gelin said the art piece reflects the entire community, and he is happy with the project’s turnout. “However, from the historical and factual perspective, I think Lyndon B. Johnson accomplished more than John F. Kennedy in terms of actually getting social justice legislation passed,” he said.
Mayor Michele Gomez later said she agrees that Lyndon Johnson should be recognized for everything he has done for the social justice movement and that the city could discuss some changes to the art concept, if necessary.
Commissioner Marlon Bolton said Tamarac Village will be the “gem of the city,” adding that the art piece reflects the diverse nature of the city. “It does not matter who we are and where we come from; what matters is that we love each other and get along,” he said.
Gomez thanked Parker for all the work and energy he put into the art piece and was especially happy to see baseball player Jackie Robinson as a part of the concept.
She then asked the staff to make sure the splash pad and all the art around it are protected as the constriction of the area concludes.
The construction of Tamarac Village Park, which will house the Social Justice Wall, is slated for completion by Spring 2022. It’s part of the development by JKM developers that includes new residential and retail constructions, public areas, and the Town Center located at Commercial Boulevard and NW 94th Avenue.
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- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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