A few days ago, Mary Engelbreit, a fellow artist and designer and a native of St Louis, posted this illustration and reflection on her Facebook page:
“When situations turn horrible and I find it hard to move on, I usually draw my way through it. These drawing hardly ever see the light of day, since they’re really just a form of therapy for me. But these events unfolding now in my hometown and across the country , shining a light on the ugly racism that still runs rampant in our country, made me think that maybe this drawing could help in some small way. While it’s not a cheerful little picture you’d want to hang over the sofa, you might know of a school or an office or a police station that could use it. All proceeds from the sale of this print will go to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund.“
Mary received a huge response to the image, raising $25,000 over the next few days for the memorial fund. While most of the comments were positive, she also came under criticism from some who viewed the image as inflammatory.
Mary kept her resolve, later posting this update:
The above was removed by Facebook, and she followed with another update:
“Thank you all—-well, most of you!— for your kind words and support over the last couple of days. They far outweighed the negativity I received. Obviously tempers run high during a terrible situation like this, and without any clear leadership in Ferguson or St. Louis releasing accurate information, it’s going to take a long time to settle down, I’m afraid. I hope my drawing was a help to some of you, anyway. We’ve made well over $10k so far that will be donated the the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund, so thank you for that. I know it’s been difficult to get on our website due to the large numbers of people trying to get on, but the print will always be available, so there’s no need to rush!
Also, Facebook got in touch with us and said they would put the post back up (although I don’t know what’s taking them so long; we put it back up in about 5 minutes, without the picture) and they told us they would make sure it wasn’t removed again.
I’m going to return to my “regular programming” later today, which I know will bore the crap out of a lot of you, so thanks for being here for these few days, and thanks to most of you for being so kind.
Meditate, pray, hope and/or work (whatever works for you!) for peace and SANITY to return to our world. Be the change you’d like to see.
Mary, A Known Subversive. ( My absolute FAVORITE comment!)”
Thank you, Mary Engelbreit for showing compassion and conscience in the face of a difficult situation. It is the role of artists to do what we can to make this world a better place- through inspiration and encouragement, but also through responding with courageous truth-telling. Your actions point the way to a better world.
Mary Engelbreit was interviewed on her local NPR affiliate about the story. Listen to what she has to say here.