Mayor Of New Orleans Highlights 'Breathtaking' Art Display For Juneteenth

This past Friday, LaToya Cantrell, the Mayor of New Orleans, officially unveiled a new art display showing a giant black fist afro combo reportedly in celebration of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery within the U.S.

In the wake of tweeting out a series of photos captured of the new art installation, Cantrell stated that the new artwork was "breathtaking."

"This sculpture is very fitting for this time & place as we celebrate the freedoms that we have gained," stated Cantrell in a tweet. "We know that it doesn’t come without struggles, fights, and protests for 200+ years."

Cantrell stated during the unveiling ceremony that the entire goal for this new sculpture and any future murals is to highlight and pay homage to "afro-centric hairstyles tied to afro-centric roots" that "only black men and black women can rock." The image of the clenched fist grooming tool rose to popularity throughout black American culture in the wake of the civil rights era when quite influential leaders in the community chose to embrace their unprocessed, natural hair as part of their cultural and racial identity.

The artwork came into being after officials for the city gave approval for a $7.2 million bond back in 2019 that was slated for public art, which Cantrell stated would be mainly used to fund local brown and black artists.

As of writing, the city has already bought and displayed well over 60 pieces of artwork that were created by local black artists for the front of many public buildings, as reported by Cantrell.

However, many black conservative commentators fired responses back at Cantrell over the tweet with comments slamming the new art display that was situatied in front of Gallier Hall, the former City Hall of New Orleans, out in Lafayette Square.

"A 1970’s afro pick? #cringe," tweeted out one conservative commentator, Anthony Brian Logan.

In another tweet, the host of The Barrington Report, Barrington Martin II, labeled the artworks as "a joke" and entirely "pathetic."

The massive steel structure, titled "All Power to All People" by artist Hank Willis Thomas, sits at a massive 28 feet tall and well over 7,000 pounds.

"Public monuments have a higher charge now. They can celebrate a specific individual, or a group of people, but they should also invite a broader conversation about how a memorial can connect to the rest of the world and represent its people," claimed Thomas in a recent statement.

The raising of a clenched fist became symbolic as the salute and call to arms for the Black Power movement back in the 1960s, while the hair pick has been used to maintain and style black hair since the 20th century.

In 2021, the U.S. Senate pushed through a bill that declared Juneteenth a federal holiday after which Cantrell heavily pushed for the city officials of New Orleans to start recognizing the event immediately.

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