HOUSTON- Jonah Elijah is the artist who painted the Black Lives Matter mural honoring George Floyd outside of Jack Yates High School in Houston where both he and Floyd were once students of the mighty crimson and gold. Elijah graduated in 2012 and Floyd graduated in 1993 from Yates. “It feels really good to be a part of history… it’s still a surreal feeling,” Elijah said.
With the help of other volunteers and artists in the city, the mural was created to bring awareness and honor to the late Yates’ alumnus Floyd. Elijah hopes that this mural will convey a message of hope. “This mural has an impact on us… ourselves. I hope we can look internally and let ourselves know that Black lives matter cause the enemy will never believe that Black lives matter,” Elijah said.
Chairman for Houston Society of Change Carl Davis, alongside Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and the non-profit 88 C.H.U.M.P., helped make this historic mural possible. Davis wants this mural to be an inspiration for the students and the community. “I hope this mural is inspiration to the community. Especially for the children of Jack Yates High School. Every day they come out, they may be going through something and they look up and see this… this will plant a seed to lift their spirits up,” Davis said.
„ “I hope this mural is inspiration to the community. Especially for the children of Jack Yates High School.
And the influence can already be seen as students also helped paint the mural. Yates’ senior Kierra McGee was one of the volunteers. “I think this means so much to the community as a whole,” McGee said passionately. “Because with us growing up, and in this community with everything that has happened with George Floyd being from here, and to have this right in front of Jack Yates, it’s a huge win for us as Black people.”
Saturday the unveiling started with a private community ceremony which included music from KTSU 90.9, community and political speakers. Mayor Sylvester Turner and Chief of Police Art Acevedo were also in attendance; as well as Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee. “This is a continuation of making sure that people understand that Black lives matter to our community, to our police department, but most importantly it’s here to talk about a man that started a big movement,” Acevedo said while pointing to the sky. Other political figures in attendance included Sen. Borris Miles who mentioned the work Congress is doing in the creation of the George Floyd Act. “There is a federal bill in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. that has the name George Floyd on it. Your boy’s spirit will be lifted and chroniclized to mean something for this community. It will be against police brutality and for police reform,” Miles said. The George Floyd Act was introduced in June of last year, as a response to the death of the late Houstonian.
Floyd,46, died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds during an arrest that many have questioned. The incident was captured by eyewitnesses and started a nationwide movement against police brutality in the Black community. Floyd’s classmates started a non-profit organization to help the nation have a better understanding of minority communities. Herbert Mouton made a heartfelt speech about the gentle giant known as his best friend George Floyd. “We must educate ourselves, get out and vote, not get distracted by the presidential election. Local voting effects our community immediately,” Mouton said in a somber voice.
The unveiling ended with a celebration of community as Third Ward, Texas Southern University’s band Ocean of Soul and community leaders celebrated a new era of unity. This mural will serve as an inspiration and a reminder to many young Houstonians and the world for years to come. Elijah’s father Darren Jackson said he was very proud of his son and the community. “It feels almost surreal, but it’s great. It’s a proud moment for a father to have raised such a child that has blossomed into such a good artist. One of his slogans he likes to say is that he wants to ‘Mark the Earth’,” Jackson said. And “Marking the Earth” is exactly what Jonah Elijah did as this two block long mural symbolizes hope and a better future.