Spreading ‘love and joy’ is the goal of the Black Student Union club at Arcata High mural reveal

BSU club members with advisor. | Photo by Karina Ramos Villalobos

The Black Student Union (BSU) club at Arcata High School revealed a mural today spreading love and joy through the power of art.

“We thought that we should have our own BSU mural here at Arcata High,” said Aliyah Aaron, a BSU club member. “Because there’s not very many of us here, but we want to show that we are here and that we do hold power here at Arcata.”

The mural is a dream maker project through the Ink People Center for the Arts, Art Representation Culture (ARC), and Youth Art Will Succeed (YAWS!) local non-profits. The project took two years of work to create and was revealed today at the fine arts building in Arcata High School. The mural’s content includes an artist’s representation of David Josiah Lawson—a former Cal Poly Humboldt student who was murdered in April of 2017.

Student and BSU club member, Mayleah Jackson said that by using this form of platform is continuing to share and remember Josiah’s story. 

“When we were planning the mural and what we wanted on it we were talking about, either Black figures or local people and we all agreed on Josiah,” Aaron said.

On April 15, it will be 7 years since David Josiah Lawson’s unsolved murder. Activists in Humboldt County have been able to keep his name alive through similar efforts, of which the Lawson family is beyond appreciative.

“To see that young students are remembering and keeping his memory alive it means so much to me,” said Charmaine Lawson, Josiah’s mother. “It means so much to us as a family.”

Charmaine’s daughter, Chloe, said that she thinks this is “a beautiful tribute to my brother and just to the community in general.” She adds that his story made an impact to the Humboldt community. 

The Black Student Union club at Arcata High is made up of six members. They hope their artistic efforts inspire other BSU or multicultural clubs to create meaningful and similar actions.

“I think it’s really important that the community shows up tonight,” said Shannon Kresge, the BSU club advisor. “It’s a big party. We want to celebrate the kids and celebrate the message. We want Charmaine to feel like we didn’t forget about that and the justice part of that component is really important.”

Charmaine expressed to me that a bigger mural dedicated to her son will be painted soon on D Street in Arcata. Arcata High School is also currently painting another mural with a broader representation. ​​​​​​​This second mural is an effort to represent the Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and the Jewish student body.