"Jubilant and exuberant is the melanin of our skin / From despair, we have arisen."
Early on the morning of August 4, 2020, artists and volunteers finished a mural painted on the streets of East Pecan, Jefferson, and East Travis, which form the perimeter of Travis Park. The project was created as part of a public art program overseen by Centro San Antonio, a nonprofit dedicated to beautifying downtown.
The words, supplied by San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson, read: "Jubilant and exuberant is the melanin of our skin / From despair, we have arisen."
"For us, this art project was inspired by the evolution of the civil rights movement that's taking place around the country right now," said Matt Brown, Centro San Antonio's CEO. "[Our program] is about how we make downtown into a giant canvas for artists to tell their stories or to put a conversation out there." Centro’s central charge is beautifying the streets of downtown San Antonio.
Sanderson wrote the poem at the request of Andi Rodriguez, Centro's vice president of urban planning. Rodriguez had been brainstorming ways to engender a message of unity amid uncertain times. That’s when she remembered seeing one of Sanderson’s live performances. “Her words are just so beautiful,” she said. “It was like, ‘That’s what we need.’ We need to do something with these hopeful uplifting words that bring people together and lift people up.”
Sanderson posted a Facebook video thanking those who worked on the project. "Dear San Antonio, you're going to wake up in the morning and you're going to find out the poet laureate of San Antonio . . . has been working really, really hard to share a tremendous love letter with you," she wrote. Sanderson thanked Councilman Robert Treviño, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Matt Brown, the City of San Antonio, “Young Ambitious Activists, Antonio Lee, and all of the beautiful volunteers.”
Rodriguez began assembling the pieces for the project six weeks ago, with local artists Anthony Dean-Harris and Scotch! completing the design and overseeing the volunteers who worked overnight to complete the painting.