Mayor Ras J. Baraka, actor, director, and filmmaker Leon Pickney, artist Stanley Watts, and other dignitaries unveiled a statue honoring George Floyd on Wednesday on the front steps of Newark City Hall.

The 700-pound bronze statue was commissioned by Mr. Pickney, sculpted by Mr. Watts, and donated this week to the City of Newark. It stands in front of City Hall for at least one year in collaboration with the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs. The Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs is the catalyst for participation, education, collaboration and development to encourage and support excellence in the arts within the City of Newark and committed to developing a world class public art program.

The artwork honors the life of George Floyd, an African-American man who was brutally murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer. Mr. Floyd’s death elevated the “Black Lives Matter” movement which has resulted in an international response, including protests, police reform measures, and the removal of Confederate statues from public parks and racist names from organizations.

In addition, the ceremony will honor “Juneteenth,” also known as Jubilee Day or Liberation Day, when slavery was finally eliminated in the United States on June 19, 1865. On that day in Texas, Union troops freed the last enslaved men and women in what had been the Confederacy. Juneteenth is a major observance celebrating African-American freedom, education, and achievement, as well as recognizing the strength exuded from slavery to present.

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