‘Never Forgotten’: George Floyd mural returns bigger and better after offensive graffiti

Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden opens the dedication ceremony for a George Floyd tribute mural in Philadelphia's Olney neighborhood. The mural was painted by local artist Randal Whitfield on the wall of Tang Pharmacy at 5th Street and West Olney Avenue

Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden opens the dedication ceremony for a George Floyd tribute mural in Philadelphia's Olney neighborhood. The mural was painted by local artist Randal Whitfield on the wall of Tang Pharmacy at 5th Street and West Olney Avenue. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A new mural in North Philadelphia encourages residents to remember George Floyd and the racial justice movement reignited by his murder last spring.

The colorful, hand-painted design stretches along the side of Tang Pharmacy in the heart of Olney’s business district. It depicts Floyd alongside the protestors who took to the streets in Philly — and across the globe — after Minneapolis police killed the 46-year-old on May 25 of last year.

Titled “Never Forgotten,” the new artwork was completed through a partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia.

“This mural … challenges us to never forget George Floyd. To never forget that Black Lives Matter. To never forget our community standing together. And to never forget those neighbors that continue to stand in love,” said Stephanie Michel, director of the North 5th Street Revitalization Project, during Tuesday’s dedication ceremony.

Stephanie Michel speaks from a podium at a mural unveiling
Stephanie Michel, executive director of the North 5th Street Revitalization Project, speaks at the dedication of the second George Floyd tribute mural in Olney, emphasizing the neighborhood’s diversity and resilience. The original mural was defaced with white nationalist graffiti.(Emma Lee/WHYY)
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For artist Randall Whitfield, the 110-foot mural, painted directly on a wall facing Olney Avenue, is a testament to love.

Randall Whitfield stands in front of a George Floyd mural
Mural artist Randall Whitfield created Olney’s new George Floyd tribute mural on the wall of Tang Pharmacy at 5th Street and West Olney Avenue. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“It’s the only thing that’s gonna keep us. It’s the only thing that’s gonna get us towards the most high. Anything else fails. Hate. Love is gonna be the thing that gets us through,” said Whitfield.

Olney resident Diane Lloyd said she often watched Whitfield paint as she waited for the bus across the street. Some days she enjoyed the show so much that she let the bus go by without getting on.

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She’s thrilled with the final product. “It’s awesome. It’s so beautiful. It’s really, really nice,” said Lloyd, adding that it gives her hope.

Jane Golden speaks from a podium at a mural unveiling
Mural Arts Director Jane Golden (center) speaks at the dedication of a George Floyd tribute mural in Philadelphia’s Olney neighborhood. She is joined by Stephanie Michel (left), executive director of the North 5th Street Revitalization Project, which commissioned the mural, and City Councilmember Cherelle Parker. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A version of the mural first appeared on a nearby abandoned newsstand, but over the summer, it was defaced with white nationalist graffiti. It now graces the neighborhood again — in an even larger and more permanent form.

The mural is one of many completed across the country in the wake of Floyd’s murder.

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