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New Orleans Erects Giant Afro Pick Sculpture. The Mayor Thinks It's 'Breathtaking.'

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

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. 


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.


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