Black Lives Matter's Use of Graffiti and Protest to Reclaim Confederate Monuments

Sabereh Saleh, Mary Boyes, Virginia Commonwealth Honors College, 701 W Grace St, Richmond, VA 23220

Systemic racism has consistently disenfranchised and led to violence against black bodies. The removal of Confederate symbols, specifically Confederate monuments, has long been debated because of the inherent connection to racial inequality. Current social outcry through the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has revolutionized conversations regarding the removal of the statues, as protestors utilized graffiti in order to reclaim what the statues originally stood for and physically removed the statues nationwide. The reclamation of these statues through art is significant, as graffiti has long been a medium for those systematically disenfranchised. The relationship between graffiti and political dissatisfaction, alongside the history of graffiti -- namely how it is used by marginalized communities as a method of regaining power and space, was explored. The history of Confederate monuments in Richmond, Virginia, as well as artistic guerilla intervention on these statues on Monument Avenue was examined. I plan to examine the BLM movements specific to Richmond, and the graffiti placed on the statues during the most recent protests.  I plan to consider how specific case studies of monuments being reclaimed through the use of graffiti relate and compare to what is currently occurring in Richmond. As I continue to explore these different paths, it becomes clear that the use of graffiti to vandalize oppressive symbols is a popular and valid method of reclamation. More research needs to be done on the recent BLM movement and the nationwide response to these Confederate monuments. The public collaborative art and removal of the Confederate statues displays the mass dissatisfaction related to the lack of socially equitable reform.  

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Sabereh Saleh

Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University

Type: Poster

Subject: Art History & Visual Arts

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4002