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New north downtown mural spreads message against racial injustice

Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 6:18 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A new mural in north downtown depicts a young girl raising her first against racial injustice.

The girl in the painting is seven-year-old Zuri Jensen and she went from viral photo to immortalized in the painting after taking part in Omaha equality protests this summer.

“Activism has always been in our family,” Zuri’s mom Jeona Jensen said.

Zuri and her family went to 72nd and Dodge Streets along with thousands of others to stand for racial justice after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“It’s good to raise your child to stand up for what they believe in,” Jeona said.

Surrounded by thousands of Nebraskans advocating for racial equality, Zuri could tell it was part of a bigger purpose.

“I was like, Mom, is this just like Martin Luther King and she was like yeah. And I was like, well can I raise my fist up and she was like sure,” Zuri recalled.

Dalton Carper snapped a picture was taken of her standing fist raised on top of her dad’s car.

“When I saw the photo opportunity, my journalistic instinct hit a high and I just knew I had to capture that moment for Zuri, for George Floyd, Omaha, and for the greater good of the black lives matter movement,” Carper said.

The photo garnered local attention and even was shared by U.S. Senator and Vice President candidate Kamala Harris.

“It shows the resiliency of so many people, and of course, it shows hope, embodied in a 7-year-old girl. It’s time people listened to the words this movement has to tell,” Carper said.

The picture captured the attention of two artists in Omaha who decided to immortalize the moment.

“It’s very inspiring,” Artists Anthony Pena said.

“It’s hard to get away from an empowered young woman,” Artist Watie White said.

Hundreds of posters and a massive mural later, Zuri’s moment of bravery is a symbol we can all connect to.

“It feels mind-blowing and amazing,” Zuri said.

“Standing up and being powerful in a way that we all want to stand up and be powerful. Especially in this moment where..shew..it does not feel like access to power and control of your own life feels available as we wish it were,” White said.

“I hope that people will be inspired and just can come here and reflect on everything that’s gone on this year,” Pena said.

The installation is now permanent. You can find it at 13th and Nicholas at the Millwork Commons.

“At Millwork Commons, what we’re trying to do is build an inclusive and equitable and diverse neighborhood and we’ve got some buildings here that need life infused into them so what better opportunity than to have something like this mural,” VP of Business and Ecosystem development at Millwork Common, Jeff Slobotski said.

Tuesday is the official unveiling. There, the artists and Zuri along with her family plan to share more about how this mural inspires them and how they hope it inspires others.

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