SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The cutting of a long black satin ribbon signaled the opening of the "Say Their Names" Memorial exhibit.
"These people featured in this exhibit cannot say their names anymore, so we must,” said Gaidi Finnie, executive director of the San Diego African-American Museum of Fine Arts.
Displayed downtown next door to the New Children's Museum, this installation, part of a traveling exhibit, and created by the San Diego African-American Museum of Fine Arts brought out many local leaders.
"We say the names to remember the lives but also to remember why their lives were taken from us too soon,” said Dr. Akilah Weber, California Assemblymember for the 79th district.
There are 200 black-and-white photos featuring many recognizable faces from Emmett Till lynched in 1955 Mississippi to George Floyd killed in 2020 Minnesota.
"This installation should spark change. We are all San Diegans, but particularly for Black San Diegans, who have been treated differently throughout our entire city's history," said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe presented Finnie with a proclamation on behalf of the San Diego City council presented a proclamation that stated “July 10 to the 25 to be Say Their Name weeks in the city of San Diego.”
The featured photos were not just of national names, but the memorial honors former NFL linebacker Demetrius DuBose, who was shot several times in the back by police in Pacific Beach in 1999 and Alfred Olango, who was shot and killed by police in El Cajon in 2016.
“It is so much. It uplifted my heart and all of my crying when I see the picture of my son being honored among all these people. It makes me believe that I am not alone, and that people are grieving with me and my family together,” said Pamela Benge, the mother of Alfred Olango
Many walking through the exhibit aisles learned the stories of the lives lost by using a QR code that brings up the long list of names by phone.
"It's a big eye-opener, like they said, they do have tissues because it will get emotional. I found myself reading some of the articles getting a little teary-eyed,” said exhibit visitor Ashley McCallie.
McCallie said she hopes memorials like these don't get any bigger.
"I mean everyone looks like me, and I could be the next you know Breonna Taylor or Sandra Bland or anybody," she said.
The “Say Their Names” Memorial exhibit is on display until July 25.
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