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Media Island International Celebrates Black Excellence Through Downtown Murals

January 5

Media Island International Celebrates Black Excellence Through Downtown Murals

Photos courtesy of Media Island International. From left to right, the murals feature Chadwick Boseman, The Orishas, painted by Eva Bender and Breonna Taylor.
Written by Heidi Smith

Shawna Hawk has noticed a trend. Whenever any tragedy involving people of color attracts national attention, images and artwork will appear – for a time. But once the public focus has moved on, those representations disappear. Often, they are rooted in black trauma and pain rather than a celebration of excellence.

Hawk decided to change that. Now, Olympia residents can enjoy large murals of acclaimed actor and activist Chadwick Boseman along with full-size depictions of Orisha, deities venerated by the Yoruba people in West Africa.

“My concern is that the majority of the black presence in Olympia is around negative black trauma, pain, death and loss,” says Hawk, the Executive Director of Media Island International, a cultural educational and networking center designed to support the leadership goals and aspirations of women of color.

“Our organization wants to focus on African-American resilience, strength and contributions to the community and the country as a whole.” Hawk is also the founder of the Women of Color in Leadership Movement.
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