Ashley Bennett, a Kent State University Alum, is spreading the word about social injustice, and trying to make a difference—one brush stroke at a time.
The end result is her new art exhibit called 'The Black and Gold Collection.'
One by one, students can walk through Oscar Richie Hall, and see Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Billie Holiday, names most commonly referenced to during the Civil Rights Movement.
“These are people that were not considered criminals, some of them were unarmed, young, my age. So I just wanted to honor their lives,” Bennett said.
On the other side of the room, are portraits of people like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Tamir Rice, and their existence in the exhibit is already creating a buzz.
“It’s kind of deep, especially as an African American male,” said Shakorie Davis, a Freshman at Kent State University visiting the exhibit with his class. “I feel people don’t really care about the stuff that’s going on in the black community."
His classmate Will Bayuk, recognized the content could be controversial but thought it was needed.
“So I think it can be a little bit awkward, but I really enjoyed it though,” he said.
That’s Bennett’s whole point—continue the conversation on race here in America, exposing students and the community to those who have lost their lives to social injustice in our country.
Having iconic portraits of Civil Rights leaders on one side, and current portraits of those who have brought groups like Black Lives Matter movement alive on the other, Bennett said shows where we’ve been as a country and how much further we have to go.
“The segregation that was once there is not as segregated out right, but I do feel like social injustice to an extent still exist, and we still can become better in so many ways,” she said.
The exhibit will be up at Kent State University for Black History Month and is open to the public until February 15. The pieces will then be displayed in Lorain at the National Council For Negro Women’s gallery later this month.