This summer, AFSC’s 67 Sueños unveiled its latest mural in Oakland, California, “Cultura, Sueños, y Sanación.” This mural—like many others created by 67 Sueños—was developed by youth, from start to finish.
Founded in 2010, 67 Sueños is a youth organizing program for undocumented youth and youth from mixed-status families. Through political education, trauma healing, and artivism, 67 Sueños helps young people develop leadership skills and organize campaigns.
At the start of each summer, youth gather to collectively envision the mural they want to create. They discuss issues facing their communities and the topics they care most about. They all have a chance to propose ideas for the mural and vote for their top choice. No adults take part in the decision-making process.
Once they have a theme, youth conduct research. They come up with ideas, scenarios, and images that are then collaged for a mural sketch.
“Cultura, Sueños, y Sanación” is the result of their efforts. The theme of the mural is healing. In these difficult times, youth wanted to plant a seed of hope in our community. The mural depicts how tapping into our ancestral practices grounds us. Our culture holds many answers to the questions we ask ourselves in our journey toward healing from trauma and injustice.
The mural also represents the many hopes and dreams youth have for our neighborhoods. Youth paint the realities they want to see. A future where every dream is valuable. Where every culture is valuable. And where every human is deserving of compassion, grace, and love.
Through this mural, youth are contributing something positive and beautiful to their own communities. They are developing leadership skills as well as skills in mural production, event planning, political education, and public speaking. And they are deepening relationships with one another while building community with people in the community and neighborhood businesses.
While youth were working on the mural, strangers often stopped by to thank them for their efforts. People donated fruit, snacks, and drinks to help them stay hydrated. One local business owner bought us all ice cream pops from a local neighborhood paletero. Moments like these help youth realize the impact they are having in their neighborhoods. It makes them feel seen.
Most importantly, creating murals like this one is an opportunity for youth to share their own stories, their own perspectives, and their own solutions for issues they face. It is one way that 67 Sueños youth are reclaiming their own power.
Read more about the significance of the mural images:
Youth chose to include an Indigenous weaver as it is a representation of themselves and those who reside in the Fruitvale community. The Guatemalan population, largely Indigenous Mam speakers, has grown in the Fruitvale for the past 10 years. Like many migrants, they have moved here escaping anti-Indigenous persecution.
This image of a joyful boy flying a kite reminds us how children should be if our communities can heal. Black, Brown, Immigrant, and Indigenous children should all feel safe in their communities and be allowed to play and be curious.
This centerpiece was painted to demonstrate the importance of healthy love for our babies. To remind us that our journeys for healing should not only be for ourselves, but also for the many generations to come.
Funding for Cultura, Sueños y Sanación was made possible by many generous donors to 67 Sueños program, including the Akonadi Foundation, California Endowment, Heising-Simons Foundation, Northern California Youth Power Fund, San Francisco Foundation, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.