Amid unrest, a thought on where justice and peace come from
o justice, no peace!” has been ringing through our streets, a hallmark of the protests since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and way too many others.
It’s a cry born of desperation — and one that makes perfect sense. Without justice, we won’t have peace. Our desire for justice and peace is so strong that it’s driving us into the streets to demand them.
To me, it creates a fundamental question: Why is that? Where does such a desire come from? Why do we understand justice and peace to be good things?
Christian writer C.S. Lewis makes an interesting point.
“Everyone has heard people quarreling,” he writes in his book “Mere Christianity.” “They say things like this: ‘That’s my seat — I was there first’ or ‘Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm.’ ”
What got Lewis’ attention is that there seems to be a shared standard among us that one person thinks another person is violating. Something about this situation is not fair. And Lewis notes that the accused person never says something like, “To hell with your standard.” No, he or she counters with an argument about why it really is fair — or why fairness doesn’t apply in this particular case.
Does the idea that some things are right, like justice, and others are wrong, like injustice, just appear? How did our unspoken agreement about them end up in our heads and hearts?
For me, the only reasonable explanation is that it was put there by our Creator. We seem to roll out of the womb with a sense of right and wrong — it comes as standard equipment. I haven’t heard anyone respond to “No justice, no peace!” by saying anything like, “Nobody really cares about justice.”
That’s because we know that’s not true. I think I knew that, even as an 8-year-old living outside Nashville in the late 1960s. That’s when our next-door neighbors, the ones with the George Wallace bumper stickers on all of their cars, seared the first memory of racism into my head.
When the Rev. Dr. Martin
Davis said the image was also inspired by the Black
Girl Magic movement — a concept born to celebrate the beauty, power and resilience of Black women.
With a beautiful Black woman more than 10 feet tall plastered on the side of Hill City Hardwood at 1208 Thurman Ave., Davis said she wants to give voice to a different kind of story about Black women in the city.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said Michelline Hall, a photographer and co-owner of Blackwater Branding in Lynchburg. Hall has collaborated with Davis on projects for more than seven years and admires how her colleague has expanded her following.
“She didn’t come out of nowhere,” Hall said. “She’s been here and has been consistent.”
Hall said seeing diversity reflected in public art is vital, especially as works expand from only certain sections of town. Though areas of downtown have been designated Lynchburg’s “arts district,” with clusters of galleries and shops along the riverfront, Davis and Hall want to see public art spread.
“It’s full of energy that is going to make you smile,” Hall said of the “Make Waves” mural. “It’s definitely going to make you stop. It’s a magical, whimsical piece in a drab, industrial part of the town.
“It’s important — reflecting
Christina Davis worked on “Make Waves” for four long days this month. It has brought a colorful and inspiring message to a wall of corrugated metal in an industrial part of Lynchburg. the people who live in those neighborhoods and those communities.”
Growing up in Lynchburg, Davis said, she had to navigate a lot of racism to get to where she is, but she doesn’t want the story that emerges from her art to be “a sad one.”
“A lot of us are putting it all into this city,” Davis said. “Black Girl Magic was something so important to us growing up. It’s why we have such a strong hustle. We’re filling gaps we see in our community.”
An E.C. Glass High School graduate, Davis said being an artist requires an entrepreneurial spirit, and she drives around Virginia to partner with different artists.
“Make Waves” was her first big project in more than two years since the birth of her daughter, Amara. She said her daughter was thrilled by the project — even more thrilled to watch her mother paint a woman “that looks like herself.” She said these big, positive images will help broaden horizons for Amara and other girls around the city.
Davis said she has returned to the art scene with a vengeance since Amara’s birth, with new murals planned throughout the summer and her work currently displayed at the Academy downtown and at Bean Tree Café in Cornerstone.
“We are a part of Lynchburg. We live here. We are around the corner,” she said. “We want to help change the conversation a little bit, and a great start is a beautiful woman.”