16 Newark and the People Who Love It

It’s a startling sight on a busy street in a rundown neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey. On a five-story brick building, windows partially boarded up, is a larger-than-life-size painting of a young girl, her black hair tied up in two high ponytails, her hands holding a mound of soil out of which grows the word “love.” And she has sprouted two giant golden-orange butterfly wings.

Nearby, on a one-story wood-sided wall, giant portraits of Black Power leader Malcolm X and poet and Newark native son Amiri Baraka look over at a young man, who is staring straight out of the painting. The young man represents the artist, who is feeling the weight—and the inspiration—of carrying on the legacy of these heroes, according ...

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