This summer artists from all over the globe took over the streets of Harlem, New York to raise awareness about human rights and education equality. The initiative was a collaborative partnership between Street Art Anarchy, a New York City based start up that works with international street artists on contemporary art projects, and the human rights campaign Not a Crime. Together they curated over 15 murals on specific walls in Harlem that highlighted vibrant cultural and educational institutions, just in time for the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Not A Crime raises awareness of human rights abuses in Iran. The campaign shines light on the treatment of Iran’s largest religious minority, the Baha’is, who are persecuted because of their beliefs. In addition to being harassed and jailed on false charges, they’re denied access to the right of higher education. Maziar Bahari, a former Newsweek journalist who was jailed in Iran and became the subject of Jon Stewart’s film “Rosewater,” founded Not A Crime.
This is Not A Crime’s second year coming to New York to collaborate with street artists to raise awareness about the Baha’is and also to empower local communities who also face similar injustices in the U.S to create the change they wish to see and to support equal rights to education.
The mural photographed here, was painted by South African street artist, Ricky Lee Gordon. Gordon painted this 55ft mural at the Faison Firehouse Theatre, owned by the local legend George Faison, the first African American to win a Tony Award back in 1975.
“How can we let such a human rights violation exist in today’s world? How can we have not realized that the suffering of one is the suffering of all?” Ricky Lee Gordon on this piece – his second for the Not A Crime campaign, after his mural in Cape Town, South Africa – launched the campaign’s 2016 series of murals across Harlem in New York City. His idea of “Gentle Hearts” – the young people whose rights have been violated, in Iran and anywhere – resonated with community members and with George Faison, owner of the Faison Firehouse Theatre.”