As the days get shorter and colder, organizers of Louisville’s racial justice movement are readying for the next phase of social activism in the city, and part of those preparations include finding a new home for the Breonna Taylor memorial in downtown’s Jefferson Square Park.
The movement needs to keep going, but it needs “to be realistic with the weather and the conditions,” Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression co-chair Shameka Parrish-Wright said at a press conference Sunday.
“With the permission of Ms. Tamika Palmer, [Taylor’s mother], and with Roots 101, we have had an agreement that Breonna’s memorial will live there,” Parrish-Wright said.
Roots 101 African American Memorial Museum will become the permanent residence for the memorial, a carefully arranged and curated collection of artwork, signs and images paying tribute to the 26-year-old Taylor who was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police officers in her apartment during a late-night operation last March.
“Breonna will be able to rest with her ancestors, with our ancestors,” Parrish-Wright said, pausing for applause from the crowd in the square. “Breonna’s memorial… will be right on Museum Row.”
The memorial has grown in size and scope over the summer and fall at Jefferson Square Park, often called Injustice Square by demonstrators. The square has become a hub for the protests as well as a venue for social gatherings and cultural events.
Parrish-Wright said there will be a “symbolic march” from the square, where people will take each piece and rebuild it inside the museum.
Roots 101 founder and CEO Lamont Collins said he “was very moved” to get a message from Parrish-Wright saying that Taylor’s family wished to move the memorial to his museum.
“That they thought enough to think that we would tell the story and the narrative that needs to be told about Breonna Taylor in a respectful way,” Collins told WFPL. “So I was moved in that way, where we have so many other museums in the city, that they would honor us in that way, because it’s an honor for us to tell her story.”
He said they’ll house the memorial on the fourth floor of the museum, overlooking the Ohio River. The river itself holds significance as a place where Black people who were enslaved could look across to Southern Indiana or Ohio and see the possibility of freedom.
“We get to put the symbolic remains of Breonna Taylor in that same ancestral spirit by the water,” he said.
COVID-19 and pandemic-related economic blows have delayed Roots 101 officially opening its doors to the general public, Collins said. But the museum is already full of artifacts and artwork. He encouraged people to contact the museum if they want to visit the memorial once it’s rebuilt inside.