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A mural that serves as justice for all

A mural in the south end of Burlington depicts a world where there is justice for all.
A mural in the south end of Burlington depicts a world where there is justice for all.(WCAX)
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 7:06 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 1:52 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A mural in the south end of Burlington depicts a world where there is justice for all.

The Champlain Elementary School is working with local artists, Juniper Creative, to create a mural in support of racial justice. The mural has a bit of a back story, it was was fundraised for and organized by businesses inside the Soda Plant in the South End.

The Burlington school had already been in talks with the artists to have a mural curated but hadn’t made a solid plan yet. But when this mural needed a home, the school was happy to provide one. Champlain Elementary Principal Joe Resteghini, believes that art can help build a community.

“Art is a way to raise up a community. I think art is a way to build a sense of pride in the place that you learn the place that you go to school and the place that you live,” Resteghini said.

For these local artists, it meant a lot to them that their work was going to be seen, and their voices were going to be heard. Jennifer Herrera Condry is one of the artists of Juniper Creatives, and she and her family are curating this mural together with the help of the students.

“We’re actually really excited that we were able to partner with Champlain Elementary School for the mural to find a home here in the south end of Burlington in such a visible location,” Herrera Condry said.

The mural features Jennifer Herrera Condry and Will Kasso Condry’s daughter, Alexa Herrera Condry as an afro-naut in space fighting for justice for all. Alexa says that it is breathtaking to be the subject of a mural that so largely and clearly represents a woman of color. And the kids are filled with joy and enthusiasm to be able to be a part of this historic event.

“They just light up when they find out that this is me up on the wall. It’s a living, breathing character because they’re already like a superhero right so they’re like, Oh my gosh, she’s right in front of us and they want to meet with me they’re trying to show me their work and just feel so wholesome and genuine and so sweet.” Herrera Condry said.

These students are learning a lesson on how to create a welcoming community, and putting their work on the walls is a forever reminder of that lesson. One fourth-grader, Will, says that he feels joy being able to help people of color feel like they have a safe place.

“Feels great, I mean being a part of the community and letting Black people know that we got their backs, I mean that is really nice,” he said.

And Principal Resteghini says these discussions don’t stop with the mural.

“We talked about that anti-racist concept where you’re creating representation, making sure that books represent all people in the classroom, but you’re also creating a safe space where teachers are really facilitating a conversation at a developmentally appropriate rate,” Resteghini said.

It’s that facilitation of discussion and that representation that brings the whole community together. And Will Kasso Condry says it’s this representation that helps people of color feel like they have a place in this world.

“One of the little black girls who were here throughout the week. You know, they see themselves in, you know, and that really affirms, you know, if I had something like this. When I was in elementary school. Show me that my life mattered. You know It would have been everything,” Kasso Condry said.

Showing the south end of the city what it means to come together.

Editor’s note: We initially reported that the owners of the Soda Plant company had rejected the mural but that is not true. We regret the error.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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