A new, two-story afro pick statue was unveiled in New Orleans on Friday in honor of Juneteenth, but while Mayor LaToya Cantrell called the structure “breathtaking,” not everyone sees it that way.
"As Juneteenth approaches, we celebrated with an unveiling in Lafayette Sq," Cantrell tweeted about the 24-foot tall hair pick that has a clenched “black power” fist on top. "This sculpture is very fitting for this time & place as we celebrate the freedoms that we have gained We know that it doesn’t come without struggles, fights, and protests for 200+ years."
The imposing pick is part of the Monumental Tour, a traveling exhibition of large-scale outdoor works by Black artists. Others in the exhibit are:
- "Kalief Browder: The Box," a conceptual artwork by Coby Kennedy in the form of a transparent jail cell, on the Camp Street side of Lafayette Square
- "Caliban's Hands," a sculpture of enormous metal hands by Christopher Myers, at Baldwin and Co. bookstore, 1030 Elysian Fields Ave.
The exhibit website says the three sculptures were provided by New Orleans Office of Cultural Economy, the Essence Festival of Culture and the Kindred Arts organization. The sculptures arrived in time for Juneteenth celebrations this weekend and will remain in place through the 2022 Essence Fest, June 30 to July 3, and depart to their next destination after July 12. (NOLA)
The display, "All Power to All People," was created by artist Hank Willis Thomas.
Breathtaking?????????? pic.twitter.com/gpHmzfvd1J— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) June 17, 2022
As Juneteenth approaches, we celebrated with an unveiling in Lafayette Sq.????????— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) June 17, 2022
This sculpture is very fitting for this time & place as we celebrate the freedoms that we have gained
We know that it doesn’t come without struggles, fights, and protests for 200+ years pic.twitter.com/QcwFElDETN
Furthermore, in recognition of our local black and brown artists, we have dedicated $7.2 MILLION in bond funding to public art??— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) June 17, 2022
??In addition, we have already purchased over 60 pieces of artwork created by local Black artists to be displayed in our public buildings???? pic.twitter.com/Dlw35fXV4j
The city is spending more than $7 million to recognize "local black and brown artists," Cantrell said, noting that the finished products will be displayed around public buildings. A spokesperson for the mayor's office declined to say how much the giant afro pick cost taxpayers, however.
The City of New Orleans just unveiled a giant sculpture of an Afro pick. This is a joke, but it’s not supposed to be. How humiliating for a city that has given humanity so much great culture. https://t.co/GBc52wTQpM— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) June 18, 2022
Imagine being mayor of a major city, spending money on a monument that depicts the accomplishments of black people, and deciding on a hair pick. They would recall a white mayor for demeaning us. Instead, we'll shout "Yaass Queen" and pretend nothing is wrong. https://t.co/pyVJpqWE6M— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) June 18, 2022
Nothing says national decline like the statues taken down in New Orleans and what replaced them. pic.twitter.com/99nKp0azoL— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) June 18, 2022
As New Orleans’ infrastructure crumbles and innocent people are being gunned down daily, Mayor LaToya Cantrell unveils a giant “black power” hair pick in historic Lafayette Square. ??— Ellen Carmichael ?? (@ellencarmichael) June 18, 2022
Her awful leadership is absolutely devastating for those with a history and love for this city. pic.twitter.com/ggSNK9zh3l
An Afro pick is the best image you could think of to represent the hardships/struggles that African Americans have endured for hundreds of years??? ??— NOLAEagles (@MDP4141GE) June 17, 2022