San Jose unveiled new Black Lives Matter banners at City Hall on Oct. 29, an effort to bridge the community following a year that saw deep divisions and widespread protests over racial inequality.
The red, black and green banners, designed by local entrepreneur Cherise Orange, feature the colors of the Pan African Flag, which stands as a symbol of pride, liberty and celebration for Black Americans. They display the words “Voices. Dreams. Futures.”
“We are at a pivotal time in this nation’s history,” said Orange, the CEO of You Just Got Oranged. “The unveiling of San Jose’s Black Lives Matter banners recognizes so many things. Although we cannot rewrite the past, we can create a better future. I’m thankful that the city I call home sees that I matter.”
Mayor Sam Liccardo said this is “the beginning of a very important process.”
“It’s been an honor to work with the community to find a way to prominently celebrate the Black Lives Matter movement, to acknowledge the importance of our work ahead and to manifest our collective commitment to embrace that work,” he said.
City leaders recently adopted a Black Lives Matter resolution and Equity Pledge, and explored how to display these declarations visually at City Hall. San Jose also launched its first Office of Racial Equity and recently named Zulma Maciel to lead it.
“This initiative is an example of why we can only move forward if we listen to the voices of those who will lead the way, our youth,” LaToya Fernandez, founder of YouthHype. “We give them a platform and ask them to help us reimagine a city where everyone feels empowered and included.”
The unveiling took place as top Silicon Valley leaders gathered a block away to denounce The Silicon Valley Organization — one of the city’s most powerful political and business organizations — for a racist image posted to its website.
The image depicted Black protesters surrounded by clouds of tear gas and asked “Do You Really Want To Sign On To This?” — implying San Jose City Council candidate Jake Tonkel’s stance on police reform will result in Black people rioting.
The SVO had spent more than half a million dollars opposing Tonkel’s campaign and boosting that of San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis.