SLI/ What We Want, What We Believe


Groundswell Community Mural Project ©

Acrylic on Brick Wall
30 x 120 ft

Artists: Chris Beck & Clare Herron
Youth Artists: Ariel Azore, Melissa Casiano, Adaiah Gaillard, Hanifa-Hakim-el, Shaquoya Hemmans, Ivan Jacobson, Joshua Johnson, Peter Kehinde, Andrew Kehinde, Nico Koehler, Chris Parra, Christy Pabon, Jonathan Ramirez and Nathaniel Taylor.
Volunteers: Kate Fauvell, Emily Sims, Alton D. Wilson, Cathleen Lewis, Joseph Keehn.

Location: VIM Store, 2253 Third Avenue (122nd Street and Third Avenue), New York, NY 10035

Community Partners: The New Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem



“What we Want, What we Believe” is a monumental mural inspired by the work of legendary artist and former Black Panther Emory Douglas. The mural project is in conjunction with the major retrospective “Emory Douglas: Black Panther” on display at the New Museum on the Bowery through October 18, 2009.

Emory Douglas was the Revolutionary Artist of the Black Panther Party and later became its Minister of Culture. He designed the layout and oversaw production for the party’s newspaper, the “Black Panther,” creating a vocabulary of images that exemplify how art can encourage political consciousness and function within an activist context. In partnership with New Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem, Groundswell youth and artists Clare Herron and Chris Beck have brought to life an original design based on Douglas’s work. Through taking the concerns of local people and “re-mixing” images from three of Douglas’s images from the “Black Panther” newspaper with two of his more recent images, “What We Want, What We Believe” is a reflection of this communities’ past, present, and future. It is the first large scale public artwork celebrating the work of Emory Douglas in New York City.

The theme of the mural is “Educate to Liberate.” One community issue that many people spoke about during the neighborhood surveys was the lack of parent involvement in their children’s lives, and a generation gap that resulted in a lack of knowledge being passed down by older generations.  Four images of Emory Douglas’ work were incorporated into the composition, beginning with a profile of an old man with rays beaming out from him symbolizing the passing of knowledge onto the younger generation. This leads into an image of three boys walking to school, a woman with a baby who is holding a scale symbolizing justice, and a little boy holding a newspaper with the Black Panther slogan “All Power to the People” and the additional phrase, “Harlem Unite” below it. Each of these images are contained within interlocking gears - an image chosen by the youth to represent knowledge, and the connection of different generations and races to create a system that works.

Read the New Museum Press Release