in the Public Realm
Harlem River Park Mural ''The Future of Every State"

The Future of Every State
Janet Braun-Reinitz
Sites at this Tour Stop...

The Future of Every State

About this Tour Stop...

The Future of Every State mural depicts the importance of education in the lives of youth, and its role in shaping the future of a society. The Sankofa bird, a West African symbol that represents the act of remembering the past while moving forward through space and time, shows a bird flying forward in space with its head looking backwards. Also shown are Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife Mamie, well-known for conducting psychological studies in the 1940's that were later utilized in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education segregation case. The study identified ideas held by African American youth regarding race relations. The couple is featured with a child participating in the study, in the middle of the mural. Additionally, Dr. Antonia Pantoja, educator, social worker and civil rights worker who fought for the education and preservation of culture for Latino youth is featured on the right side of the mural. Her portrait is wrapped in a tail feature of the Sankofa bird. Pantoja founded the non-profit organization ASPIRA (Spanish for "to aspire"), which promotes a positive self-image, commitment to community, and education to Puerto Rican and other Latino youth in NYC. The mural is rich in bold colors and patterns inspired by West African textiles and South African N'Debele wall designs. N'Debele wall art dates back to the 18th Century when the Ndzundza N'Debele people of South Africa created their own tradition and style of house painting. Their expressive symbols were used as a form of communication between sub groups of the N'Debele people and portrayed subjects such as personal prayers, self-identification, values, emotions, and marriage.