Voting is Power: Milwaukee’s Latinx community installs “Black and Brown Lives Matter” Street Mural
Voces de la Frontera Action (VDLFA) and Voces de los Artistas (VDLA) hosted a massive street painting action and voter registration on to 700 block of Historic Mitchell Street, outside of the “Trump Neighbored Headquarters” in Milwaukee’s Latinx South Side on October 10.
The street painting action is inspired by the Black Lives Matter national movement and is following in the footsteps of Washington DC and other cities across the United States that have painted massive Black Lives Matter slogans on their streets since the murder of George Floyd. The message is: Vote the racists out.
“Wisconsin has one of the most rapidly growing Latinx populations, and record numbers of Latinx immigrants have become recently naturalized and are voting for the first time in the 2020 elections,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera Action. “In Milwaukee County alone, there are nearly 35,000 naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote, and Trump won Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes in 2016. Immigrants in Wisconsin have the power to change the course of this national election.”
The giant street painting, which took nine hours to complete and is 275-feet-long by 50-feet-tall, reads: “Voting is Power” followed by “Black and Brown Lives Matter” followed by a Black Lives Matter fist. VDLFA has become the heart of a statewide relational voter organizing and canvassing campaign, and has attracted historic numbers of Latinxs to the polls in Wisconsin.
As a key battleground, Wisconsin has firsthand experienced the devastating effects of systemic racism and police brutality with the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed, and the subsequent murder of two anti-racist protestors Anthony Hubber, 26 and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, by White Nationalists in Kenosha.
VDLFA has promoted the message of strength through unity, and has worked to get Wisconsin’s Black, Brown, and immigrant community to the polls in 2020. The effort is seen as crucial to vote White Supremacy out of office on November 3. The artist collective, VDLA, believes that one of the most effective ways to get immigrant and multiracial youth to the polls is through art.
“Every 30 seconds, a Latinx youth turns 18 years old in the United States,” said Jeanette Arellano, artist in the Voces de los Artistas artist collective and one of the lead organizers of Saturday’s street painting action. “Our youth connect with learning and resistance in creative ways. Visuals and creative thinking have been uprising since our social distancing started. Social media and Tok Toks have gotten more creative – and more informative as well. So we learn about voter suppression and our rights and how to win this election as we engage in creative ways.”
Voces de la Frontera Action’s relational voter program, Voceros por el Voto, is working to build a network of 23,000 new and infrequent Latinx, Black, youth, immigrant and pro-immigrant rural voters in Wisconsin. By the end of September they had 12,394 conversations with individuals in their relational voter network, and since this program took off in March 2020 have contacted 16,835 eligible voters.
On Saturday, October 10, Voces de la Frontera Action and Voces de los Artistas hosted an all-day Black and Brown Lives Matter and voter registration event in the heart of Milwaukee’s South Side, the historic home of Latinxs in Milwaukee. The Voces de Los Artistas (VDLA) artist collective led the street painting, and the slogan reads: “VOTING IS POWER” followed by a BLM fist and the words “BLACK AND BROWN LIVES MATTER.” VDLA also had a sidewalk chalk station for children, a banner painting station, and a screen printing station to print t-shirts and posters. VDLFA simultaneously hosted tables for an all-day voter registration drive, and educated the public on important voting deadlines in Wisconsin.