The Protests that Rocked the Nation

Public art displayed this month reflects widespread calls for action.
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BLM Plaza

 A college graduate, photographed on Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Media credits
Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator

(Inside Science) -- June saw unrest and upheaval of the likes of which have not been seen in the U.S. in many decades. Across the United States, the intersection of Pride Month, Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter Protests, and the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a growing desire for change. This month we look at how these events have been expressed through public works of demonstration and art.

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Protest shot 1

On June 5, medical staff from the University of Virginia held a moment of silence by the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers in Charlottesville and knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This time stamp is a symbol of the police violence that resulted in the death of George Floyd on May 25. This Virginia demonstration was an act of solidarity between healthcare professionals and the Black community, reflecting the White Coats for Black Lives movement. (Kim Kelley-Wagner)

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Protest shot 2

In Baltimore, a statue in the Charles Street Lobby of the Baltimore Convention Center shows two men discussing a stack of papers over lunch. This is The Briefing, by sculptor John Seward Johnson Jr. Both men have been masked by someone else in a performance-style effort to reflect the current state of the pandemic. The handwritten paper in the black man’s hands adds to the statement, reading: “Wear the Mask.” (Elvert Barnes)

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Protest shot 3

On June 5, a section of 16th Street across from the White House was officially renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza at the order of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The renaming came after the Department of Public Works painted a mural that reads “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”Above, an African American college graduate poses in his yellow cap and gown, matching the color of the street mural. Like many people in the crowd, he wears a face mask to combat the ongoing pandemic. A proud family member snaps a photo of him with the Washington Monument in the background. (Ted Eytan)

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Protest shot 4

Following the call to take down memorials of the Confederacy, protestors gathered around this statue of Theodore Roosevelt on June 28. The statue resides at the Museum of Natural History in New York, NY. While Roosevelt was known for his conservation efforts to set aside land for national parks and preservation, this statue depicts an African man and a Native American man in problematic subservient roles. (Ark Neyman)

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Protest shot 5

Instead of parties and parades (such as the above image from 2019), celebrations for LGBTQ+ Pride this year mostly moved online. NASA held a virtual Pride “parade” that featured seminars about being an alley to LGBTQ+ community, live Q&A’s, and even a movie night. (NASA Ames)

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Protest shot 6

On June 5, medical staff from the University of Virginia held a moment of silence by the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers in Charlottesville and knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This time stamp is a symbol of the police violence that resulted in the death of George Floyd on May 25. This Virginia demonstration was an act of solidarity between healthcare professionals and the Black community, reflecting the White Coats for Black Lives movement. (Kim Kelley-Wagner)

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