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“Justice for George:” from pain to celebration

Several young girls work with paint and stand on step ladders as they work on a mural outdoors.
Children work on a mural as part of a past Memorialize the Movement event. (Photo courtesy of MTM)

Memorialize the Movement celebrates four years of preserving underrepresented voices with “Justice for George: Space as Canvas.” The local grassroots organization is hosting a two-day event highlighting its journey from the beginning – archiving murals on the go during the uprising following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 – to moving the works into its new location; the former Du Nord Social Spirits Black-owned distillery space in Minneapolis. 

Founder Leesa Kelly says bringing the organization to South Minneapolis is a full-circle moment.

“The space is just down the street from the former third precinct that was burned down. It felt very poetic for us to be taking up roots in that space and that neighborhood,” said Kelly.

Day one features a live 12 x 40-foot mural painting along the new building, a panel discussion with journalists and filmmakers who documented the uprising, and a documentary teaser of Memorialize the Movement’s move from its former location to its new space. It all gets underway tonight (Friday) at 6 p.m. at the current Du Nord location on East 32nd Street in Minneapolis.

Day two (Saturday), starts at noon and runs until 7 p.m at Memorialize the Movement’s new home - 3140 Snelling Avenue in Minneapolis. It includes a walk-through of the new space, live music performances and West African dance, an artist fair and a photo booth. 

Kelly says the annual event has evolved from a space of pain to a space of celebration.

A Black woman smiles as she stands in front of a brightly colored mural.
Leesa Kelly

“In year one, it started off as a way for people to come together and heal, and kind of just process everything we experienced in 2020 – from the pandemic, to George Floyd's murder, to the uprising and all of that,” said Kelly. “But it's really also evolved into a way to celebrate community, and celebrate the talent, the creativity, the innovativeness of our community – the ways that we come together and make something out of nothing. And so, we've really focused this year on art and creativity as the center of this event.” 

Kelly says after four years of collecting murals regarding the political views of the local community, she believes the biggest statement a person can make is with their presence. She says this event will offer hands-on opportunities for participants to explore how they can expand their voice in more than one way; most importantly, in connection with others.

“Our goal is to encourage people to think about the ways that we can use physical space, but also imagined space as a creative lens, in our day to day life.” 

Kelly says she hopes participants will leave feeling empowered to do three things: take up space, celebrate Blackness, and choose joy.


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