In 1989, the Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia came together as a community to construct a mural remembering the many victims of gun violence in Philadelphia. The “Stop the Violence” mural had displayed a list of names of the victims throughout the local area, a way of affirming that they will never be forgotten. While this mural was an influential landmark for Point Breeze, the neighborhood was rapidly changing. New developments and construction were blossoming around the area and the wall housing the mural was eventually torn down in August 2018.
However, the community came back together again to resurrect what was once a historical tribute of both grievance and hope. The revitalized “Stop The Violence” mural still maintains the same list of names as the original mural, though now with a more hopeful and optimistic atmosphere, emphasizing the importance of looking forward while acknowledging the past.
Jane Golden was the artist of the original mural and is now the Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, the program that primarily led the resurrection of the mural. Golden is deeply passionate about raising awareness for this cause, as she remains actively progressive by continuing her work of anti-gun violence advocation through cultural arts. During the opening reveal of the mural on Wednesday, July 23, she discussed how the mural and other cultural arts can inspire a community in raising awareness.
“This mural will live on as an icon, as a landmark, and as a continual source of pride and inspiration. A reminder of who came before and a reminder of what we want as we look forward.” Golden described the importance of developing something that will resonate with the families of the victims and the overall community, such as the recovered mural. She explains that when a community comes together to create such a meaningful piece, it becomes an essential part of the society itself.
Another member of the neighborhood who spoke at the opening was Anna Barkar, the Point Breeze resident who lives in the building of the mural. Barkar says she was in the process of purchasing the home back in April when she found out that the community was planning on resurrecting the mural again. She claims she was surprised at first, but after learning more about the importance of the mural, she became a part of the development as well.
“Personally it was a first-hand experience to get to talk to the long-term community members and the residents of this area and to find out how significant this wall was to them” Barkar said, describing her growing appreciation.
The newly recovered “Stop The Violence” mural has resonated with everyone across the Point Breeze community while reaching further beyond to all citizens of Philadelphia. As Golden summarized, “It will remind people of who came before, and that there was a loss, but there is also beauty.”