Kerry James Marshall’s lithograph commemorates civil rights heroes Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy. They are portrayed on a banner that reads “We Mourn Our Loss,” modeled on similar tributes popular during the 1960s. Above the banner, lost civil rights and black power movement figures are represented as angels. We are invited to remember these important events in American history by a woman offering a vase of flowers to the memorial.
Here Marshall commemorates the civil rights era, but he also reminds us that the fight for civil rights and human rights was not over when he made the work in 1996. Born in Birmingham, Marshall moved from Alabama to Los Angeles in 1965—from one center of racial strife to another. He created this print shortly after Los Angeles was seized by riots protesting racially motivated police brutality in 1992. Today the Black Lives Matter movement continues to protest police brutality and serves as a means of public mourning.