Jasmine Milton’s ‘In Loving Memory’ Banners to be Installed for Black History Month

Arlington will be installing 14 new banners in celebration of Black History this month. Among the chosen designs are 6 banners by Boston Artist Jasmine Milton for a project she named “In Loving Memory” — a series of paintings bringing attention to the most vulnerable young people of color: Black kids who are missing or dead in Massachusetts.

Her project is sponsored by the Arlington Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to highlight the work of BIPOC artists along the theme “Young People Leading the New Civil Rights Movement.” Milton’s beautiful banners are a poignant reminder of the unequal efforts to find missing kids of color. “When black people go missing in Massachusetts, who is looking for them?” she asks. “We commonly see people showcased in the news fit a specific demographic, and thus receive more assistance from law enforcement.”

Jasmine Milton was inspired to create this project after the loss of her friend, Steven, who was a victim of gun violence at 13 years old, and as a memorial of all the missing and dead black kids in her neighborhood. She uses color theory in her painting, creating portraits that show the positive, complex people who are missing — which highlights the dichotomy between the perception one might get by looking at mugshots or other photos used by law enforcement who label the missing as “criminals” or “endangered runaways.” These portraits are real, raw, personal representations of the students, the mothers, the go-getters, the activists, the leaders. Each banner has a QR-code you can scan to read more about their stories, and prod you to think about the racial disparities in treatment of these cases.

These banners, selected by AHRC’s Crystal Haynes and ACAC Artist-in-Residence Chanel Thervil, will be displayed alongside previous year’s banners on light poles along Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington, Arlington Center, and the Heights.

Jasmine Milton will be participating in an Artist Talk via Zoom with Arlington Human Rights Commission on February 15, 6 – 7pm. For information, please email ahrcevents@gmail.com.