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The Shining Light Foundation Brings ‘Black History Mural Project’ to Leimert Park  
By Simone Grant  Contributing Writer 
Published April 21, 2022

 

From left are Daniel Toledo, Gizette Knight, and Fernando Pullum in front of the mural. (Simone Grant/L.A. Sentinel)

On Sunday, April 17, the Black History Mural Project had an unveiling in Leimert Park at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center. This project paints 28 murals in different cities to educate people on different Black figures throughout history and their significant contribution to society.

The Black History Mural Project was founded by The Shining Light Foundation (SLF), a community-based foundation created to bring resources to marginalized communities. In 2020, founder of SLF, Gizette Knight, tried to bring a Black Lives Matter street mural to Phoenix, Arizona because she had co-organized two marches down there.

She said she saw that the momentum was dying and took initiative. Knight campaigned the city council, meaning she went to individual city council members to get the vote to get the approval to paint the Black Lives Matter mural in Phoenix – specifically downtown by the Suns’ arena. She received enough ‘yes’s’ to move forward. Then, all of a sudden, they received a ton of racist emails that came in to the city council. She explained that they were getting around 2,500 racist emails a day.

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Gizette Knight gives a rundown of The Shining Light Foundation as well as the Black History Mural Project. (Simone Grant/L.A. Sentinel)

“Those votes that we got were changed to ‘no.’ Ultimately, the city of Phoenix said, ‘No we can’t paint the mural.’ So the Black community wanted something. They wanted to see representation of themselves.

“So I said, ‘Since they won’t let us paint one mural, I will paint 28 murals. And I will paint them representing the 28 days in Black History Month and I’m going to make it educational,’” she expressed. “We are going to highlight figures that made significant contributions that they don’t talk about normally in the school.”

This year, SLF received funding from NASCAR, Microsoft, and the Phoenix Suns. Through that funding, they were able to expand to different cities. In total, they are painting 112 murals across the nation, in Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

 

Daniel Toledo expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to paint at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center. (Simone Grant/L.A. Sentinel)

The Black History Mural Project teamed up with Compton United School District to have students write essays on each of the figures. These essays are attached to the murals via QR codes.

“So somebody who doesn’t know who Dr. Chares Drew is, they can hover their phone over the QR code and the student’s essay will pop up. It’s educational,” Knight explained.

Sunday’s unveiling featured the work of LA-based artist Daniel Toledo, who beautifully captured musicians, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and John Coltrane. Toledo told the Sentinel that the mural took three in a half days to complete. Knight gave a brief speech on the history behind the project as well as information on her foundation.

Fernando Pullum tells the audience how thankful he is to have the mural on the side of his building and gives a few facts about each of the figures. (Simone Grant/L.A. Sentinel)

Fernando Pullum also spoke a few words about how honored he is to have the mural on his building and also stated a few facts about the figures. Toledo talked about the inspiration behind the mural and thanked SLF for the opportunity, Pullum, and the community for coming to show support. Attendees watched in awe as the mural was finally revealed.

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Anyone interested in checking out the mural can visit the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center, located at 3351 W 43rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90008. It can be found on the side of the arts center.

For more information on SLF and the Black History Mural Project, visit: https://www.shining-light.org/bhmp or https://www.instagram.com/shininglightfnd/.

To check out more of Daniel Toledo’s work, visit: https://www.instagram.com/mister_toledo/.

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