“Re-writing Our History”
The mural featured on the northern wall of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice was conceived in the spring of 2011 by the Youth Group of the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), and was painted during the summer and fall of 2011. The mural was sponsored by the South by Southwest Experiment (SxSWE), a project between SWOP, the Southwest Workers Union in Texas, and Southern Echo in Mississippi that builds multi-racial power by developing sustainable relationships between low-wealth, grassroots African-American, Latino and Indigenous communities, leaders and public officials in the South and Southwest United States.
The mural was spearheaded by Liz Carrasco and Lilian Fernandez, two youth members working with SWOP and SxSWE, and involved the entire SWOP Youth Group. The SWOP Youth held two community workshops to collectively design a mural that reflected the historical and cultural identity of New Mexico communities.
The SWOP Youth believe that the process of designing and painting the mural strengthened our relationships with each other and with our community. Our shared history and shared struggles are what tie us together and our determination for change is what keeps us strong. The mural represents a way to stand united, not just based on cultural or moral beliefs, but based on what is possible together.
The technical expertise and artistic vision (and hard labor) that allowed this project to happen is due in large part to two local artists – Francisco LeFebre and Joseph Stacey. We are also deeply grateful to the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice for allowing us time, space, and patience to complete this project.
Over the course of painting the mural, hundreds of community members came to contribute. Participants from youth groups such as Generation Justice came to apply a few brushstrokes, as well as SWOP members and various visitors to the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center. Anyone and everyone was invited to participate and the final mural reflects a variety of styles.
The broad guidelines that were developed stated that the mural should be multi-generational and multi-racial, with a strong New Mexican identity rooted in history and culture. The image should also be forward-thinking, with a positive vision of the future of New Mexico that represents our communities.