A new mural in the Third Ward is encouraging Houstonians to honor George Floyd’s legacy in a powerful way: by exercising their fundamental right to vote.
Located on the brick wall of a Third Ward corner store that Floyd used to frequent, the mural predominately features the native Houstonian’s face, painted in a rainbow burst of colors. Beside Floyd’s profile, two white doves of peace hold signs with messages reminding readers to “be the change” and “go vote.”
Murals of Floyd, whose name became a rallying cry in June after footage of his death at the hands of Minneapolis Police went viral, have cropped up all over the Bayou City, and throughout his Third Ward neighborhood. But this new creation is especially important to Floyd’s family, who commissioned the piece to commemorate his 47th birthday on October 14.
“George’s family wanted something that shows diversity, which is why I used a lot of colors in the mural,” artist Ange Hillz, the man behind the mural, tells Houstonia. “They wanted to send a message: If you don’t vote, you’re not going to get any change.”
Known for his speed-painting abilities, Hillz first met Floyd’s family when he painted a portrait of the late Floyd in just three minutes during his Houston funeral service on June 9. The Rwanda-born artist says he grew close to the Floyd family in the aftermath, and when they asked him to help commemorate his birthday, he jumped at the opportunity. Unlike the speed-painted piece he produced this summer, the mural took two days to complete (plus a third for touch ups), Hillz says.
The new mural has already gained attention since its unveiling during a small but emotional ceremony on October 12. In addition to members of Floyd’s family, many of whom wore custom T-shirts bearing the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” and the now-infamous number 8:46, Texas leaders, including U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, Councilwoman Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, and Commissioner Rodney Ellis, also attended the event.
"We should pay tribute to this family, who in their pain, is traveling not only in this state, but trying to reach to people who constantly say, 'I don't know if I'm going to vote,'" Jackson said during the ceremony. "If you're able, if you're registered, you just can't have that luxury."
See the new mural at 3400 Holman St, and learn more about early voting in our Early Voter Guide.