Art and protest have often gone hand in hand. They do more than just evoke likes on someone’s social media feed or catch the eye of a passersby. Murals have been the primary artistic response to the outrage over police brutality and racism.

The street art inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in Madison and across the nation has stayed true to its fundamental purpose: to be the voice of unheard communities. 

Along with demonstrators who took over the streets in an uproar over the brutality inflicted on Black people by the hands of police, street artists have taken centerstage. The murals make the statement that protestors must be heard and those who are not on the side for justice for Black lives, have been put on notice.

Memorials to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor graced many plywood-covered businesses along State Street. Other art included calls to defund the police, alongside symbols of black power and resistance. Artists say their work is a way to unite with the Black Lives Matter movement. It also serves as a sanctuary for sorrow.

The cruelty of George Floyd’s killing amid the pandemic lockdown left many, including myself, incensed and feeling helpless. Visiting the murals provided temporary solace. It also left me puffed-up with pride knowing many of the art gallery-worthy pieces were painted by Black artists in traditionally white spaces that speak to the Black community.

Ms. Milele, who ran UMOJA Magazine for nearly three decades, insisted on showcasing Black artists on each cover. We carry on that beloved tradition. 

This special collectors’ issue, Black Lives Matter Art for Advocacy, displays the powerful artwork of creatives from across Madison. This edition was made possible through UMOJA’s partnership with The Madison Arts Commission, the Overture Center for the Arts, and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

We would be remiss not to mention our special gratitude to Oscar Mireles, who serves on the Overture Center Foundation Board, Karin Wolf, the city’s arts program administrator, and Hedi Rudd, the local photographer commissioned by the city to take snapshots of the historic protest art.

Not every art piece is represented in the pages of this issue. We believe this is a great representation of the stunning, collective work.

Now that we have witnessed how the art world responded to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the demand for justice and police accountability continues, conversation has shifted toward what will become of the murals? Those with suggestions are urged to contact the city at