And now, Black Brits are making sure their voices are heard as the fight for justice and equality continues through the arts. Activists and artists, Kelly Abbot and Victoria Barrow Williams founded the People Dem Collective to organize demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter.
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The collective was birthed after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by cop Derk Chauvin during an arrest on May 25.
But when British gallery Turner Contemporary decided to host a show about the struggles of the American south, there was no mention of the UK at all. And that’s when Abbot and Williams wanted to make sure Black brits were properly represented.
“We thought they missed a trick by making it so Americanized,” Abbott told the NY Times. “There’s a rich Black British history here.”
After approaching the gallery about a possible expansion to the “We Will Walk — Art and Resistance in the American South exhibit, the one-room exhibit “Margate to Minneapolis,” came to fruition.
“There’s a shared past in slavery. There’s a shared past in oppression,” she said. “If that history isn’t put together in any way, it doesn’t do anyone any good.”
Great Britain’s past isn’t squeaky clean as it also played a part in colonialism, racism and slavery so two wanted to show the similarities in oppression. They’re doing so by features more than 100 signs carried by protesters at local Black Lives Matter marches that the People Dem Collective organized in June. It was attended by around 4,000 people and the signs displayed powerful statements like We Must Unite To Destroy Racism, Black Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter, Black Futures Matter, Put Avocado On Racism So White People Notice, If Racism Can Be Taught Then So Can Equality, and Make Art Not Hate.
There’s even a sign that exhibits when the group took a knee, sat, or stood in solidarity for eight minutes and 46 seconds– a representation of the amount of time that George Floyd begged for his life.