Opa-locka residents cheer the power of art — and all people

A new artwork called “All Power to All People” — sculpted like an afro pick — is on permanent display on the lawn of an Opa-locka apartment complex, where it is described as a symbol of empowerment for the community.

Internationally known artist Hank Willis Thomas of New York came to South Florida for the Oct. 17 dedication at Town Center Apartments, 420 Aladdin St. in Opa-locka.

“This is really exciting for me to [have a permanent] piece in a place like this, having the history that it does,” said Thomas, originally of New Jersey. “For me [this moment] reminds me of a thing my friend said … ‘beauty is a basic service.’ I hope they are happy to have it. I hope they embrace it. I hope it becomes a source of pride, a source of coming together and communicating and building a better future.”


Artist Hank Willis Thomas’ work ‘All Power to All People,’ sculpted like an afro pick, is on permanent display in Opa-locka. The sculpture was dedicated Oct. 17, 2017.

Photo provided to the Miami Herald

About 44.8 percent of the city’s residents are living in poverty and the median household income is $18,134, according to 2015 statistics from the U.S. Census.

Willie Logan, CEO/president of the Opa-locka Community Development Corp., hopes that the eight-foot-tall, 800 pound piece will help to improve the image of the community and highlight the city’s unique Moorish-designed beauty.

“It shows that we are very powerful people who have a very rich history, a history and a culture that is of interest to more than just the people that are here or people of color and I think that was evident in the audience of people we had here tonight,” Logan said of the sculpture.

“Also,” Logan continued, “I think, helps to place Opa-locka on the map as being an interesting neighborhood with excellent and very unique, quality, architecture and frankly with the opportunity to be a lot more. There is a great opportunity for development here and we think bringing people to the community, hearing about the work we are doing in the community, will only spark interest in development.”

Hank Willis Speaking7

New York artist Hank Willis Thomas speaks Oct. 17, 2017, at the dedication of his new artwork, ‘All Power to All People,’ at Town Center Apartments in Opa-locka.

Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Logan, a former city mayor and state lawmaker, is not the only person that has optimistic goals for the city. Sherrell Jones-Petty, a life-long Miamian, has lived in Opa-locka for a decade, just three blocks from the where the artwork installed.

Jones-Petty said better days are coming to the city, which has been rocked recently by political scandal.

“I grew up in the ‘70s and to me this thing means, only one thing: black power,” Jones-Petty said of Thomas’ work.

“Opa-locka is not out of fight,” Jones-Petty said. “We still have a lot of good people that live here. Every day I see kids walking up the block. All of them have a future and we have the responsibility to make sure they develop into good people, people better than we are. I know I am personally inspired by what I saw here, today. The whole community will be able to see this every time they walk past this building and I really do feel like it will make a difference in how people see and represent this community of ours.”