University of Southern California

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Working with our neighbors to build a strong community

Black History Month banners reflecting the African-American experience to appear on Trousdale Parkway

Five original artworks reflecting the African-American experience were unveiled Wednesday at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park. The common element among the images, which were created by 15 local high school students for Black History Month banners, is the sun.

The art will be featured on banners along Trousdale Parkway throughout the month of February.

“The sun shines on all of us,” said Noni Olabisi, an acclaimed muralist who led the students on their creative journey. “The sun shines on the whole world, and I wanted the banners to be all-inclusive. It’s about black history, but it’s also about faith.”

The students, who drew their inspiration from the stories and experiences of members of the USC African-American community, transformed those experiences into the drawings that were painted and enhanced by Olabisi.

The images show elements of love, struggle, rebellion, achievement and Egyptian royalty.

“We were kings and queens,” Olabisi said. “We had land. That shouldn’t be lost or overshadowed by slavery.”

One of the images features a Sankofa bird, a symbol of recovery.

“It’s a mythical bird and its story comes from Ghana,” Olabisi said. “It represents going back and fetching what you have lost.”

Linsey Montgomery, a sophomore at View Park high school, designed several works.

“I wanted to show that in success, there’s still struggle,” Montgomery said as she described an image of two graduating students with raised hands breaking a shackle.

“I listened to the stories and then transformed my thought process into the work. I love how Noni used color to make them universal.”

Mayor Garcetti and President C. L. Nikias visit the banner project on Wednesday, January 10.