Street mural unveiled in honor of Fallen JY Lion during Black History Month, in front of the historic Jack Yates Sr. High School in Third Ward
Black Lives Matter!
Not only were those words the central theme of a momentous occasion that took place this past Saturday in Houston’s Third Ward community, those words also now appear across the street from the high school where George Perry Floyd Jr. graduated from and called home.
At the start of Black History Month, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Houston Society for Change, and 88 C.H.U.M.P., a non-profit social activism organization formed by Floyd’s former Yates football teammates, came together to unveil a new Black Lives Matter mural on the streets of Third Ward across from the historic Jack Yates Sr. High School.
The Black Lives Matter street mural is two blocks long on Alabama Street, and has the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in Crimson and Gold (the Jack Yates school colors), along with other words of inspiration, and a lion (the Jack Yates mascot) and Floyd’s football jersey #88.
This new mural in Houston, Texas is similar to other street murals that have been painted in several cities across the country, such as in Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, New York City, Austin and many other cities, as a response to Floyd being killed after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest in May 2020.
The vision to commission the Black Lives Matter Street Mural in honor of George Floyd directly across the street from Jack Yates on Alabama St. was birthed by Houston Society for Change founder Carl Davis and 88 C.H.U.M.P. founders Herbert Mouton, Vaughn Dickerson and Jonathan Veal. All of them are members of the Jack Yates alumni who wanted to inspire and provide hope for the students at Jack Yates and the Third Ward community at large, including the Cuney Homes where George Floyd grew up and went to school.
The team commissioned local artist and 2012 alumnus of Jack Yates, Jonah Elijah, who currently lives in Los Angeles, to produce the powerful presentation of unity and hope. Elijah and his team of volunteers came together to paint the mural over the course of three days, with support from the City of Houston Public Works employees.
“This is personal for me,” said Elijah. “These three words are not only for the people who don’t think Black Lives Matter, but it’s also for us too. It’s an opportunity for us to come together in unity.”
Several family members of George Floyd, including his sister, son, close friends and others were in attendance.
“It means a lot to see people come out and show so much love and support for my father,” said Quincy Mason, George Floyd’s son.
Many elected officials, community leaders, along with friends and teammates of Floyd, were also in attendance. Those who were on the program spoke about the community impact of having the mural unveiled in front of Floyd’s former high school in his memory.
HISD Board President Dr. Patricia Allen shared some powerful words as it relates to the students who currently attend Jack Yates where the street mural is located, as well as children as a whole.
“Until we get through this long dark tunnel called racism, let this mural be a beacon of light that shines BLACK LIVES MATTER, BLACK LIVES MATTER, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, BLACK LIVES MATTER,” said Dr. Allen. “When racism goes, we can focus on the children.”
The Jack Yates National Alumni Association (JYNAA) presented three (3) recent 2020 graduates of Jack Yates (Dominick Davis, Cornelius Ballard IV and Try’von Harrison) with the first-ever “George Floyd Scholarship for Social Justice” in the amounts of $2k each ($6k total). All three scholarship recipients are currently attending and are in the second semester of college at Texas Southern University.
The unveiling ceremony was emceed by Houston Society for Change member Pernell Davis.
At the conclusion of the unveiling ceremony, there was a ribbon cutting and 88 balloons were released in honor of George Floyd, with 300 motorcycles organized by “The Crew” Motorcycle Club decided to “Ride for George” down the newly unveiled street.
Many of the elected officials and community leaders who were present included: Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis; Mayor Sylvester Turner; State Senator Borris Miles; Houston City Councilmember Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz; 88 C.H.U.M.P. founders Herbert Mouton and Vaughn Dickerson; Dr. Grenita Lathan, HISD Interim Superintendent; Tiffany Guillory, Jack Yates Principal; HISD Board Trustees Dr. Patricia Allen, Kathy Blueford-Daniels and Myrna Guidry; Carl Davis, Houston Society for Change; Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia; State Senator Royce West; Dr. Reagan Flowers, HCC Trustee; HPD Chief Art Acevedo; State Rep. Ron Reynolds; Fort Bend District Attorney Brian Middleton; Fort Bend County Attorney Bridgette Smith-Lawson; Chris Spellmon; Laronda Spellmon; the Jack Yates National Alumni Association Executive Committee; and many more.
George Floyd was the epitome of Jack Yates Senior High School, through and through, and you can’t think of Third Ward, you can’t think of the Cuney Homes and you definitely can’t think about Jack Yates, without mentioning George Floyd’s name.
Black Lives Matter…this street mural will help everyone at Jack Yates, in Third Ward and across the country, not to ever forget it.