Story and Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
July 18, 2021 (San Diego) - The late Alfred Olango, who was an El Cajon resident at the time of his death, was included in the exhibit “Say Their Names” Memorial Exhibit located next to The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. The exhibit runs through July 25 and commemorates people of color killed by police or due to racism.
Alfred Olango, an African immigrant, was shot and killed by an El Cajon Police Department officer on September 27, 2016 after Olango pointed a vaping device at the officer. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis exonerated the officer of wrongdoing. By contrast, a Minneapolis police officer was recently convicted of murdering George Floyd, another African-American commemorated in the new museum exhibit.
“There are too many that have been killed by racism or systemic racism,” said San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art board member Fern Nelson.
“All ages, many generations, within the United States,” she said of those represented at the exhibit. “Their biographies are on our website.”
According to the SDAAMFA’s literature, experts have determined that racism is a mental health issue because it causes trauma. Trauma is often a direct path to mental illness, which needs to be taken seriously. They invited Black men (18 years and older) to take part in a dialogue focused on the range of racial encounters faced daily. It could have been anything from simple uneasiness in a given situation, to encounters with police which may lead to brutality or even loss of life particularly the impact on Black male survivors. The discussion was facilitated by AMFT, C. Khalifa King and held on July 18.
The exhibit includes pictures of George Floyd, Emmett Till, Breonna Taylor and many more. The exhibit is free, but a donation is appreciated.
The flyer notes this is a floral tribute and with messages from the heart (Children’s Art Project) encouraged from the children.
Rackley Floral and Gifts offers flowers to add to the top of each column.
Children were encouraged to help produce “A Floral Tribute” which involves making flowers that were displayed in the garden area of the park.
The San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art (SDAAMFA) built the exhibit and will re-assemble the exhibit again at a date and location to be determined. The project is a joint collaboration with The New Children’s Museum.
“It looks so beautiful at night,” said Chula Vista resident Blanca Padilla, who works security for the exhibit. “They (visitors) say they have waited for this a long time. They cry.”
How long has the SDAAAFA existed?
“We’re a museum without walls,” Nelson noted. “We’ve been active for about eight years. It was founded by the late Shirley Day Williams.”
“There will be a closing celebration on July 25th,” Nelson noted. The celebration will include line dancers, spoken word, poetry and other meaningful expressions. The event will run from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
For further information, visit https://www.sdaamfa.org/.
To see other Say Their Names memorial exhibits from other cities, visit https://www.saytheirnamesmemorials.com/
To visit The Alfred Olango Foundation, visit https://www.saytheirnamesmemorials.com/.