Just feet away from a controversial statue of racist former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo, an enormous sculpture of an afro-pick has been installed outside of Philadelphia’s city hall.
The 12-foot-tall installation titled “All Power to All People” is part of the citywide public art project Monument Lab centered around identity and commissioned by Mural Arts Philadelphia. A black power fist serves as the handle for the afro-pick. The sculpture is only temporary but its timing and placement is a bit coincidental.
Along with the nationwide appeals for removal of confederate monuments, Philadelphians have also been pleading for eradication of the statue of Rizzo whose bigotry was no secret from the public. The statue has been vandalized on numerous occasions and a Philadelphia city councilwoman Helen Gym joined in on the requests for its removal in August. The ex mayor who served from 1972 and 1980 was also largely suspected of mob affiliation and other unethical practices during his years in office.
41-year-old Hank Willis Thomas is the 800 pound sculpture’s creator and is one of 20 artists taking part in Monument Lab. He told NBC Philadelphia the recent controversy surrounding the Rizzo monument didn’t play a role in the decision as to where his artwork would be placed. Thomas, whose father was a Black Panther and grandfather served in the police academy with Rizzo, has been working on the project for a year.