A huge mural honoring the life and legacy of Oscar Grant was officially unveiled last weekend, 10 years after he was killed on the platform of Fruitvale BART.
A blazing wave of blue hits you as you walk up to the west side of Fruitvale Station — it was Oscar Grant’s favorite color — framed in gold and est African emblems of self-determination set against the Oakland skyline.
“It’s iconography of this agency coming to terms with the brutal murder of Oscar Grant and it’s a collaboration with his family and his community,” said BART director Lateefah Simon.
The Mural is the first long-term project under BART’s “Art in Transit” program. The agency paid $38,000 to a local muralist to paint on an uneven exterior concrete wall.
It was a tough job.
“Not as tough as facing police terrorism,” according to the well-known Oakland artist known as Refa One, who put his heart and soul into the project. “I hope the mural opens up dialogue and action to end the challenges we face as the Black community struggles against police terrorism.”
Oscar Grant’s uncle, Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, credits the community for the mural coming into reality and calls on the community to continue the work.
“Because of the mantra, that cry of ‘I am Oscar Grant,’ we got for the first time in California state history an officer arrested, charged, convicted and sent to jail,” said Johnson.
“What has happened today is the result of this community that embraced us, stood with us, cried with us, went back and forth to court with us, prayed for us and prayed with us. But most importantly, you realized your First Amendment right to say, ‘I am Oscar Grant,’” he said.
Despite those gains, Johnson said, 1,200 people in California have been murdered by police since Grant’s murder. “So that’s telling us our work is not done,” he said.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee acknowledged the unveiling as well. “Today, 10 years after his death, a mural of Oscar Grant was unveiled at Fruitvale Bart Station” she said in a Facebook post.
“A street has also been renamed in his honor. As we celebrate Oscar’s life and enduring legacy, let us also recommit to reforming our criminal justice system and fighting for a world where Black lives truly matter.”
Refa One said he also hopes the mural will bring a sense of joy and peace to the family, and hopes it helps transform the visual landscape of the community.