BERKELEY, CA—Just over one year after California’s first shelter-in-place order, East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) unveiled a large-scale permanent art installation at its historic 2921 Adeline Street site as a gift to its clients and community. The mural, titled “Know Justice, Know Peace” — Our Vision for Community Health and created by artist Anavictoria Avila, honors the lives, strength, and stories of women of color, and commemorates the power and vibrancy of EBCLC’s historically Black South Berkeley neighborhood.
“It is EBCLC’s privilege and responsibility to center the dignity and power of Women of Color,” says EBCLC Executive Director, Zoë Polk. “Our vision, our leadership, our staff, and, now, our home represent this investment. I am particularly humbled to present this gift to the South Berkeley community. They have inspired our pursuit of justice and peace. Through this mural, I hope they recognize that their lives and their stories are bound up in EBCLC’s vision.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic required EBCLC to pivot quickly to a mostly-remote service model in March 2020, Alameda County’s largest provider of free legal services has never stopped showing up for clients. In the year since COVID-19 began impacting the Bay Area, EBCLC has provided legal relief to ~5,000 clients, predominantly women of color and essential workers, and delivered equity-focused policy victories such as banning eviction, preventing foreclosures over unsecured debts, and abolishing police presence at traffic stops and schools. In unveiling this permanent artistic contribution, EBCLC reaffirms its deep commitment to advancing racial justice and honoring women of color, who remain the heart of their families, neighborhoods, and communities.
In addition to celebrating EBCLC’s clients, “Know Justice, Know Peace” uplifts the rich history and presence of South Berkeley, a stronghold of Black community life, activism, and entrepreneurship since the time of the Great Migration. Up through the 1950s, racist redlining policies made South Berkeley one of the only places in the city in which Black residents could establish homes. Despite this acute injustice, Black Berkeleyans built thriving businesses, founded landmarks such as the Berkeley Flea Market, and pulled together to hold the City accountable to neighborhood demands during the construction of the Ashby BART Station and other developments.
While rapid gentrification and housing policies that carry on the legacy of redlining have displaced thousands of South Berkeley’s Black residents, EBCLC has long been entrenched in the fight to protect affordable housing, promote people-centered economic opportunities, and preserve the neighborhood’s indispensable culture. In depicting an intergenerational Black family safe at home, playing music and sharing joy, “Know Justice, Know Peace” affirms EBCLC’s dedication not only to fighting back against racial injustice but to creating new possibilities for resilience, peace, and love in the communities we serve.
East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) was founded in 1988 by Berkeley Law students committed to addressing the intractable social determinants that contribute to poverty and inequity. Today, the organization operates 8 nationally-recognized anti-poverty clinics that provide free legal services to 5,000-7,000 Alameda County households and train over 125 law students annually, while advancing policy solutions to disrupt systemic racism.
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