Cedric Douglas, The Rose Memorial, 2018
Douglas’s Street Memorials Project is a social intervention project created to raise awareness of one of the most disturbing issues facing the United States: the killings of unarmed black men, women and children by police officers. The project is ongoing. The artist came to Emerson College in 2018 when he was invited as PATT’s first Artist-in-Residence. The project consisted of the Memorial Tags, the Question Tags, an outdoor video projection entitled 1 out of 400, and The Rose Memorial.
The Memorial Tags were black and white printed tags that each listed the name of a Black person shot by police, with their birth and death dates on one side, and on the other a number and a short description followed by the person’s name. For example, “Eric Garner is one of more than 1000 Black people who has been killed in the United States in the last 3 years.” The tags were installed across the College’s campus including in the elevators and various outdoor spaces. They functioned as a type of public service announcement and were meant to create awareness of the rapidly growing number of police killings of Black citizens, mostly young men.
The Question Tags asked people to write an answer to the prompt: “When is it OK to shoot someone?” Douglas handed out the oversized tags, and also placed them around campus for people to write in their answers. The projection installation 1 out of 400 was installed in the Boylston Place alley. The Street Memorial Project culminated in a public event, The Rose Memorial, in which Douglas and members of Flawless Brown, an Emerson student organization, stood on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets and handed out roses with a memorial tag attached to each flower.
The Rose Memorial initially called for a tribute to the “400 Black people who have been killed by police in the last 5 years.” As Douglas collected names, stories and photographs from the media, however, that number kept increasing. By the end of his residency, the total number of these killings had more than doubled. The artists changed the memorial tags to read: “…more than 1,000 black people who have been killed in the last 5 years.” The project was well received by the Emerson community and had a lasting emotional impact on all who encountered it.
About Cedric Douglas
Cedric Douglas is an artist and designer who integrates graffiti ideology into design and advertising. His work is inspired by everyday life idioms and the subculture of guerilla or street art. He uses this approach to express his social views about the world. Douglas is the Creative Director of The Up Truck, one of his many public art projects that is a mobile arts lab created to engage residents of Uphams Corner in Dorchester, MA. Douglas has been an artist-in-residence at Northeastern University and Emerson College.