“Beautiful Struggle” ~ Oakland High School

So this morning’s excursion proved to be a perfect little life lesson in patience, flexibility, and serendipity. I was on my way to a particular mural that I knew I wanted to post today. I had it all planned out (I like to plan). It fit perfectly into my mural themed week and is one of my favorites in Oakland for it’s unique simplicity, and just happened to be on my way to my girlfriend’s’ house where I was headed anyway to pick up cake pans for a birthday cake to be baked this weekend.

However, my plan was completely thwarted by unanticipated road construction directly in front of the mural… police officers directing traffic, orange cones and plastic fencing cordoning off lanes, a giant yellow construction thingie (backhoe? bulldozer?) in the middle of the road, and basically no way to get the shot I had wanted.

I was frustrated. I ended up getting lost on my way to my friend’s house, despite having been there hundreds of times over the years… I was driving in circles not knowing how to get where I wanted to go… even more frustrating. As I felt my agitation rising I realized I needed to talk myself down.

“Breathe… It’s going to be ok. There’s plenty of art around… no need to be set on the one you had pre-picked… breathe.” And just like that, I turned a corner and saw the old familiar line of tall slender palm trees running down 9th Avenue and knew exactly where I was.

I picked up my cake pans and then drove right past this gorgeous set of murals produced by the students at Oakland High School. It’s really like a dozen murals all rolled into one, but I’ll feature the centerpiece today (Beautiful Struggle), and we’ll get to the others in future posts.

Beautiful Struggle 1

Beautiful Struggle 2

Beautiful Struggle 3

Beautiful Struggle 4

The mural was produced by the Visual Arts Academy Magnet Program (VAAMP) at Oakland High, and focuses on inspirational minority leaders, as only 2% of students at the school are white. (Wikipedia, see Oakland High School). The phrase “beautiful struggle” comes from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam”…

“We must move past indecision to action. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.”

The center figure of the mural is Ms. Broussard, “one of the greatest art teacher(s) [to] set foot in OHS.” Other figures include Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Frida Kahlo, Che Guevara, and Bob Marley. Unfortunately my lack of knowledge prevents me from knowing who the man is on the far left… if anyone knows, please send me a comment. Thanks!

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