Minneapolis Activists Fight To Save Black Lives Matter Art


Following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and several others, a number of Americans took to their streets to express their frustration with country's ills. As protesters took to the streets to protest against police brutality, social injustice and much more, artists took to the walls, plywood and sidewalks to document America's unrest through art. From paintings of George Floyd to graffiti laced statements, the street became a canvas for America's unrest. Six months later, two Minneapolis activists are fighting to save this artwork as cities plan to dispose of it.

A few months ago, Kenda Zellner-Smith and Leesa Kelly did not know each other. Zellner-Smith had started her "Save The Boards" initiative and Kelly's "Memorialize The Movement" was taking off. Through their efforts, the two met up and created the "Save The Boards To Memorialize The Movement" campaign. Now, they've saved nearly 600 pieces of artwork chronicling the historic summer.

"My partnership with Leesa is amazing. You know, I'm a biracial Black woman, Leesa's a Black woman," Zellner-Smith said.

"I look up to her so much and I take a lot of inspiration from her ... and together we're just kind of a dream team. Where I have weaknesses, that's where Leesa picks up with her strengths and vice versa."

In September, the duo started a GoFundMe page to help find a space large enough to house their collection. This fall, they were able to put the artwork into a singular space and view the collection in a way they had never done before.

"I wish you could see what it's like being in the storage space," Kelly said.

"When you look around, you just get this whole message of pain, grief, solidarity, you know, anger, like a need for change, a want for a better future for us all. It's really, really powerful."

In the future, Zellner-Smith and Kelly hope to create a museum like experience that is accessible and free to those in the Twin Cities.

"There has to be a space for Black people, by Black people, where this art can be available for healing and reflection, a reminder of what happened in a way to continue the movement," Kelly said.

Photo: Getty Images