A Black Lives Matter mural on Alpine Dam, in Rockford was recently painted over by the city. It was done as part of renovations to the dam in Aldeen Park. The artist of the mural shared his thoughts on the subject.
Rodrigo Ceballos painted the mural in June. He said his younger sister Keyla did the background. Ceballos said he was inspired after he, reluctantly, watched the George Floyd video. He shared that he is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and he is not comfortable with going to the protests. He said the mural was his way of participating.
“I wanted to bring the community together," he said. "I knew that people would come by and look at it. I didn't think it would get as popular as it did, get this much recognition,” he admitted, “but I figured maybe I can have some people write down their own quotes.”
He said after the mural was done, he received a call from Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.
“And he was like, ‘I really like your mural. Everyone likes it. We'd like to immortalize it, we'd like to find another place for it,’” Ceballos explained.
He said he sat down with the Rockford City Council. One of the options shared with him was to have the image printed on T-shirts.
Ceballos said he is working with owner of the Rockford Art Deli for the shirts.
“I'm still grateful," he said. "Whatever blessings come in this way, I'll take them and you know, I'll take it and I'm OK with it.”
After the mural was painted over, Ceballos said residents started to voice their opinion on social media.
He said he wants the community to know that something bigger and better will come out of this.
“You guys will have a big mural somewhere in town" he said, "that is just as impactful, if not more, because now I know it'll be where everyone will see it for the next coming years.”
He is encouraging everyone to stand up for Black lives.
“If you can’t be in the forefront of these protests, like, try to do something, donate,” he suggested. “Don't stay quiet because that doesn't help us. I'm sure that the other side is very vocal about how they feel. So, we need to do the same, if not more.”
Ceballos shared that he first started to work on murals last year, with a mural for Rockford native and Raptors basketball player Fred VanVleet.
- Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.