Oakland, Calif. mural honors women of the Black Panther Party

Jilchristina Vest, who commissioned the mural painted on her home, says the art is a break from grief that the community is reminded of

Jilchristina Vest has long held a dream to honor the women of the Black Panther Party.

That dream came true when she commissioned Oakland, California muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith to paint a mural on the side of her home dedicated to the unsung women of the Black Panther Party, East Bay Times reports.

“Rachel is a phenom. She is next level. She is a gift. I could not have completed this journey, this project, without her. She is the person who was meant to bring my vision to life,” Vest told the local news outlet.

A “Women of the Black Panther Party” mural is painted on a home in Oakland, California. (via Youtube screenshot)

Exactly 21 years ago Vest bought her 1886 Victorian home on the corner of Center and Ninth streets in West Oakland. The house sits yards from the spot where Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton was shot and killed by Black Guerilla Family member Tyrone Robinson in 1989, and just a few blocks away from the Panther’s former headquarters at Peralta and 14th streets.

The murals of Black people in downtown Oakland who were killed by police evoked dual emotions within Vest. On one hand she was inspired by those painted images, but on the other hand, she was emotionally drained by the reality that Black lives were being senselessly cut short and with such frequency. As a Black woman, she felt “bowed” by the death of George Floyd and many others as the Black Lives Matter movement became another pivotal moment in human rights.

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During such turbulent times, with a nation politically divided while in the midst of a pandemic, Vest wanted a bit of joy for her community and for her little corner of West Oakland.

“I want to have people smile when they look at my house, I don’t want them to feel the grief that we’re reminded of all of the time,” she said, according to East Bay Times.

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Vest decided to celebrate the women of the Black Panther party by putting a 2,000-square-foot mural on her house, along with a quote by Sandra Bland, who in 2015 died while in police custody in Texas, on the back of the house.

Wolfe-Goldsmith, who brought Vest’s vision to life, shared her ideals and accepted the job joyfully.

“It’s an honor to work on a project honoring so many amazing women. Part of the reason that I moved to Oakland is its history of political activism and activism around racial justice and the Black Panthers in particular,” Wolfe-Goldsmith told the outlet.

The unveiling of the mural will be on Valentine’s Day, the day that celebrates 21 years of home ownership for Vest.