Black and queer artists, healers, and ecologists in Oakland, California have formed a collective, Lead to Life, dedicated to the principle that “Black wellness is the antithesis of state violence.” Inspired by the work of Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, the group collects guns, melts them down, and retools then as shovels. A message printed on the handle of the shovel reads, “As we decompose violence, may the earth again be free.”
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, Lead to Life held a special ceremony. With local survivors of gun violence, they planted flowering fruit trees in memory of those who had been killed by gun violence. One mother sprinkled the ashes of her son into the hole dug for the tree. “His energy will be going through the lifeline of the tree,” she said, “and coming out as these flowers and buds, and that will radiate energy back into the world.”
To see a short video about their work and this ceremony in particular, click below.
- Leadtolifeteam: Lead to Life