by Sophia Chupein and Griffin Jones, SF Bay View
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Bayview’s former Bank of America officially became a space for the People! The Black community came out in droves for the celebration of the newest mural, which covers the entire facade of the massive former bank on the corner of Quesada and 3rd Street.
The artwork, designed and painted by Bayview native artist Malik Seneferu, is part of a series on Black solidarity and is titled “Black is Beautiful.” The building it illustrates will house a community center filled with resources and programs for local youth.
The mural and center are part of a collaboration between San Francisco African American Arts and Cultural District (SFAAACD) and Blue Shield of California. Watch the Bay View’s coverage of the event here.
At the unveiling, community members, local leaders and elected officials spoke to the significance of the piece.
“This is more than just a Black space in town, in San Francisco; this is a cultural district. This is more than an area where Black people live. This is Black history. This is Black joy,” announced Cheri Mille, president of the board of the SFAAACD. “That means that we get to celebrate everything Black … We get to decide what this looks and feels like.”
Along the building’s corner is a Black totem of four faces, painted in Malik’s trademark brushstroke. The faces represent our four ancestors: of the North, South, the East and West. Malik described the mural to the Bay View:
“These are our ancient ancestors that represent our spiritual growth and travels,” noted Malik. He went on to describe the rest of the mural. “On the Quesada side are the ancestors we know of, and on the 3rd Street side are our fore-ancestors – our true mothers and our true fathers.”
On the 3rd Street side, two figures holding lanterns navigate the dark of a forest carrying satchels made with scraps of the American flag. Dawn breaks in the background – the dawn of change.
“We must always be prepared for the dawn of change. When we are not prepared for the dawn of change, our young slip through our fingers. We mediate the connection between our ancestors and our young,” said Malik, emphasizing the importance of reclaiming colonized space in our neighborhoods and passing it on to the community for the good of future generations.
Watch the SF Bay View’s behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from muralist Malik Seneferu as he gave a tour of the new building to Bay View Editor Nube Brown.
La Shon A. Walker, vice president of community affairs for FivePoint, explained how the bank closure allowed her and her team to take hold the real estate for the Bayview Hunters Point community. “Now that the mural is unveiled, we will begin the process of talking with the community about the space and the vision. It’s about being unapologetic.”
“The idea of Black power is really about an immense amount of passion and love,” Malik declared. “We’re unveiling a Black totem, and this is a totem really about us all coming together. This is to show ourselves, to show our children, what it really feels like to have a village together – because it takes a village to raise a child.”
At the historic unveiling, live drums, incense and BBQ smoke filled the air as the community mingled and danced in front of the mural. This is what San Francisco’s Black cultural district is; loud and proud! Be sure to check out the stunning artwork on 3rd and Quesada if you haven’t already.
Sophia Chupein is the Social Media Manager and community journalist for the SF Bay View. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara. Sophia can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Griffin Jones is a journalist and Copydesk Chief at the SF Bay View. She can be reached at email@example.com.