Posted on August 25, 2020

Philly’s Newest Black Lives Matter Mural Is on Its Most Prominent Government Building

Danya Henninger, Billy Penn, August 24, 2020

Fists are raised. Masks are on. Defiance, hope and determination fill the faces — accompanied by notable touches of weariness.

With people of all ages and races arranged in a ring shape (aka a corona), the new photo-montage mural fronts the facade of the Municipal Services Building. Called “Crown,” the piece by artist Russell Craig is meant to be a testament to the Black Lives Matter movement and the added struggles of the pandemic, according to Mural Arts, which commissioned the project.

Set to be dedicated on Wednesday by Mayor Jim Kenney, the new artwork re-envisions “Liberty Leading the People,” Eugène Delacroix’s 1830 masterpiece that hangs in the Louvre.

At the very center of Philadelphia, the colorful, 5½-ft. window decal is very noticeable {snip}

“It’s really beautiful that they did that,” said Judy Lucien, a day-tripper from Long Island, N.Y., visiting Philly for the first time. {snip}

Since Lucien and her friends aren’t from Philadelphia, they weren’t aware that the space in front of the city government building was recently home to a different kind of iconography.

The bronze likeness of former Mayor Frank Rizzo presided over Thomas Paine Plaza until just a few months ago. The statue, for years a subject of debate because of Rizzo’s legacy of brutal policing and openly racist political tactics, was removed by Kenney in June after becoming the target of violent protests.


Eventually expanded to cover the east and west facades of MSB as well as the south, “Crown” is made of cling vinyl, according to Mural Arts, and will remain up for an unspecified amount of time.