DES MOINES, Iowa — Cruise down Des Moines’ north side along Euclid Avenue and 2nd Avenue and you just may do a double take.
“Charlie is brown brown instead of just Charlie Brown,” said contemporary artist Robert Moore. Moore and co-artist Dana Harrison used the side of Sprint Print to inject the entire Peanuts gang with a dose of melanin, lifting a young black girl into the air. Moore said, “I’ve lived in a white state, in a white world. One of the most overlooked minority groups are black women.”
Titled “UpLiFt Black Girls,” Moore first came up with the idea in his own art because he’s always loved the characters, but when he was looking for one to draw for his daughter that resembled her, there were none. “There was Franklin, the one black boy, but no other girls. I was like I’m going to paint a girl, and I did it with cornrows,” said Moore.
In wake of George Floyd’s death and countless marches across the country, including Des Moines, for racial equality, the owner of Sprint Print contacted Executive Director of Parks Area Foundation Drew Kelso to help celebrate the neighborhood’s diversity. “We wanted to get a piece of work that really reflected what is going on right now and also reflected our community,” Kelso said.
When the Highland Park and Oak Park communities heard the idea, they were all in. Residents, organizations and businesses, like Des Moines staple Chuck’s Restaurant, raised nearly $6,000 in just a week to make it happen. Kelso said, “Black lives matter and we are a community that wants to embrace the diversity. There’s a lot of strength in our community.”
They are lifting up each other’s differences to become a community of one. “This had a lot of significance to me, both in the area and also the diversity of this community. It’s super diverse, so it was really special to me to do it here and having the community support made sense,” Moore said.