September 11, 2019 | New York, NY – On this 9/11, I’m particularly grateful for the beautiful partnership with the World Trade Center and our company The JKBN Group over the past year and onward to help shift the narrative 18 years ago today from one of solely sorrow and remembrance, to one of triumph and restitution. Through other stories that not only reflect New York, but a more “true” American story, Kadir Nelson and I are making profound efforts through our projects to reflect the beautiful and diverse tapestry of our world. We couldn’t be more proud that the WTC has entrusted in us to bring these stories to light, and to give us the world stage to do so.
So for starters, if you find yourself in NYC in the coming weeks and months, please make a visit to the 3WTC (Tower 3), as I am proud to announce the first permanent sculpture installation of Marshall “Major” Taylor in the lobby — the most decorated world athlete at the turn of the 19th century, who broke the color barrier long before Jackie Robinson and made his cycling debut at Madison Square Garden. You can see it right at the corner, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and you can even enter the building to get a closer look, take a selfie and tag us if you’re so inclined.
Like many of his day, his story was hidden from public memory due to the all-too-familiar racial divide in this country, until now. We are doing our part to unearth these stories for all to see and most importantly, remember. (Recall similarly the Henrietta Lacks story that we partnered with HBO and Oprah’s camp earlier to eventually make it’s way into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian — it, too, is there for generations to learn from, view, and enjoy indefinitely — please visit DC as well).
Also, located in 7WTC (Tower 7) on one of the very top floors, I’ve just returned from curating and teaching about several more narratives that also make this day so bittersweet, inspired by several of Kadir’s New Yorker covers (see sneak peak images) — from an ode to Harlem and the Schomburg Center, to a childhood game of stickball in an alley within the shadows of affluence overlooking the 9/11 Memorials, and the list goes on. I’ll share more on that later as it deserves its’ own update.
Again, if you’re in NYC, perhaps I can get you a tour to see them all in person. I look forward to bringing more diverse stories so that we can begin to counteract what it is that our country really and truly understands makes up “American” history (yes, the good, the bad, and the ugly), and the people upon whose backs made this country what it is today. Onward!
p.s. Thank you to friends and family that showed up for our unveiling in May. I’m sooo late with social media posts, but better late than never, right?!