The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami is temporarily closed but they managed to install it’s newest public artwork at the MOCA plaza.
The “I am a Man” installation at MOCA is created by two Miami Herald Pulitzer prize winners, photojournalist Carl Juste and columnist Leonard Pitts jr.
In 2008, while working on a newspaper story, Juste captured the image of Memphis sanitation worker Elmore Nickleberry during the Memphis sanitation workers strike in 1968. These signs became a symbol for Black Americans and their struggles in the United States. Recently, MOCA held a virtual event with Juste and Pitts jr. talking about the installation.
"Initially, the project we had in mind was bigger than what we have here. We had this idea that the theme of the 1968 sanitation workers strike that caused Dr. King his life came to be 'I am a Man' which is the title of the installation here. And that came about because sanitation workers were tired of being treated like they weren't men, like they weren't adults and in some cases some of them felt like they weren't human beings. And what Carl and I thought was that this would be an excellent opportunity to explore sanitation workers strike but what it meant to be a Black man in 2008. 40 years after the sanitation workers strike, 40 years after the murder of Dr. King and in the same season that a Black man named Barack Obama was running for President," stated Pitts. Jr.
It was crucial for the pair to revisit this story and have it at Moca plaza in a time where it parallels to today.
"These principles are still important today. I would even say even more so because we seem to relive our history over and over again with every passing event. You know when I was watching the George Floyd video it reminded me of a modern day lynching. And we need to offer rebuttal to that by standing next to this giant (installation) and the scale is perfect," said Juste.
To see the full “Conversatons at MOCA” you can head on over to the MOCA YouTube channel and for more on the "I am Man" exhibition you can head on over here.