Kelly Burke – Reimagined American Flag: Black Lives Matter!

Kelly Burke – Reimagined American Flag: Black Lives Matter!


oil on canvas

54″ x 108 “

1 in stock


After the Baltimore uprisings, I painted a “Black Lives Matter” flag. The black and white stripes symbolize our nation’s major racial divide. The “50 states of black” stars represent diversity within the African-American community. Names of African-American women and men are integrated into the stripes. Red names indicate those who were killed or assassinated before they could fully live their lives. Black and white names commemorate those who have made their mark in many ways. The red Y in the center asks “Why” is this still happening? Declares “Why Black Lives Matter!” And symbolizes the gesture “Hands up don’t shoot!” Just below the “V” is the only Caucasian who merited being put on the flag. Abraham Lincoln was the first president who, over 150 years ago, decided that black lives mattered by freeing the slaves and was assassinated as a result. The flag’s design both asserts that black lives matter and names those whose lives have deeply mattered in US culture along with those whose lives have been tragically cut short. This juxtaposition provokes the question: What could have Tamir Rice, and others like him, contributed had they been given the chance to live their lives? I believe that the racism at the foundation of the Civil War of the 1860s was never resolved. And the goals of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s were never completed. So here we are today still dealing with some failures of both. Now with so many supporting the Black Lives Matter movement we have a chance for meaningful change for a better future for African Americans, which I believe is fundamentally better for the future of all people in the US. I have reimagined an American flag that not only I can believe in but also I hope can inspire a meaningful dialogue and vision about how we can make the US a safer place for all its citizens – especially my fellow Black Americans – to live out their lives fully.