About the Freedom Memorial Mosaic
Premiering on JUNETEENTH, June 19, 2021— The Freedom Memorial Mosaic Project is a multimodal digital anthology which brings together the voices and works of various Black political leaders and Black artists throughout US history. This project is meant to serve as a resource and expose the power of Black creativity. The Freedom Memorial Mosaic Project is a counter story to the myth of inferiority white supremacy tries to feed us. The juxtaposition of the collection of visual arts, novels, poetry (both written and orally performed), plays, and speeches is meant to highlight the consistent strand of resistance instilled in each black creative apart of this project. Thus, at the heart of The Freedom Memorial Mosaic Project is rebellion driven by love— the love of art, the love of Black life, the love of self.
Too often, African-American history is reduced to the violent conditions of racism which we have been historically subjected to without the proper consideration or attention to the ways that we have always resisted. As long as there has been oppression, there has been some form of resistance. Thus, may this project be a testament to the fact that despite the atrocity of white supremacy, we are still here. We are strong. We are resilient. In a world meant to destroy us, our existence is resistance, and our creativity is a rebellion.
Finally, I hope the audience (you) find just as much inspiration, exhilaration, and joy, from viewing this project, as I did in creating it.
A Note on Land and the Black community in Allentown:
In addition to honoring the thriving Black community which Allentown had, it is important to acknowledge and respect the existence and presence of the Lenni Lenape people and their land on which we stand.
To read more about the Black community in Allentown check out this report written by Wilberto Sicard (2019).
“Oppressed people, whatever their level of formal education, have the ability to understand and interpret the world around them, to see the world for what it is, and move to transform it.”-Ella Baker
About the Project Creator
KEVELIS MATTHEWS-ALVARADO is an Afro-Latinx interdisciplinary and multimedia activist, scholar, and artist born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and currently resides in Bethlehem, PA. Kevelis recently graduated from Lehigh University with a BA in Africana Studies (2020) and a MA in English (2021). She is a co-founder of the Institute on Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (ICRES) at Lehigh University and served as the Institute’s first graduate assistant. Through Africana Studies and the Afrocentric intellectual frame it provides, Kevelis was able to explore the ways in which countless number of black people have continuously used art as a mechanism to support larger social and political movements for freedom, and resist systems of power including white supremacy. For her, like other black creatives mentioned in this project, art and activism are inextricably connected.
Although they began performing spoken word poetry in high school, it was not until college, when she was inspired to fully delve into her own journey as an artist and performer. In 2017, Kevelis took a hip hop theatre course called “Act Like You Know” which reignited her passion for writing poetry and challenged her to begin performing her own work. With hip hop as the catalyst for creativity, Kevelis works with visual media including acrylic, watercolor, and clay, in addition to writing poetry. In 2020, Kevelis began exploring videography as a new medium of art by filming, directing, and producing a music video with some friends. Falling in love film, Kevelis decided to explore this newly found passion and will begin working on a documentary project based on their research in and experience of student activism at Lehigh University in August 2021.