HANK WILLIS THOMAS
ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE
"Public monuments have a higher charge now. They can celebrate a specific individual, or a group of people, but they should also invite a broader conversation about how a memorial can connect to the rest of the world and represent its people."
Hank Willis Thomas
All Power to All People combines the Afro pick and the Black Power salute, two potent symbols of Black identity and social justice. While the title references a legendary Black Panther Party slogan, this activation welcomes anyone who seeks to participate in this watershed social and cultural moment. It is a call to action, and in Thomas' own words, "we the people are standing up to take the power back."
All Power to All People stands 28 feet tall and weighs in at 24,000lbs. When Thomas conceived of the monumental Afro pick with a raised fist, he wanted to make an object that spoke specifically to African Americans.
Around the 20th century, Afro combs started to take on a definite cultural and political meaning. The "black fist" was added to the bottom of many Afro combs and is a reference to the Black Power salute that was made popular during the 1960’s civil rights movement. In addition to using the pick as a styling tool, many Black men and women wore the picks in their Afros as a way to express their cultural pride.
The Afro pick exists today as many things to different people: it is representative not only of an era, but a sound and a counter culture. It is a uniting motif, worn as adornment, a political emblem, and signature of collective identity.
Art has always heralded revolution, bringing unrest and social issues into the mainstream of culture in a less disquieting way and in this, we believe that art and specifically Hank Willis Thomas' work has a role to play in how we—a country at a crossroad—moves forward as a nation.
In light of ongoing, anti-Black police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionately affects Black individuals, A