Isaiah Trumbull (Sophomore)
Cecilia Price-Knight is a servant leader who has recently been featured on the newest East Liberty Mural. Located on the East Liberty Place South building off Penn Avenue, the mural looks over a changed landscape starkly different from a couple of decades ago. This change is something that Mrs. Price-Knight experienced firsthand when gentrification forced her to close her restaurant Impressionz, which served Jamaican cuisine that was long a stalwart of both dining and community circles. The Eagle Times had an opportunity to speak with Mrs. Price-Knight, and learn more about the new artwork, her story, and her message to Obama students.
As for the mural, Mrs. Price-Knight gave all of the credit to the two artists, Natiq Jalil and Alison Zapata, the filmmaker Chris Ivey, and Duolingo for their work on the project, “The end work was very awesome, very authentic, was really us.” Mrs. Price-Knight said that the mural recognized some of the pain that she went through, “I’m very honored and humbled that they would choose myself and my family to recognize because honestly we did endure quite a bit. And even though we endured quite a bit, I’m so grateful that God allowed me and my family not to be attached to anything or any person. So therefore we went on with life as it should go on because we had children to care for, we had responsibilities to take care of. That did not mean it didn’t hurt or didn’t feel like a death. Yes it did. However, we had to keep moving on, because that’s what life is about. You move on.” Mrs. Price-Knight also brought attention to the role art has to play in our communities as a whole, “Art is very important because if you go around without art you don’t see a great deal of beauty. All you see is what might be like dullness and doldrums but art… Art brings things to life. Art expresses life. Art expresses love and sadness. I believe it is an integral part of the community.”
Mrs. Price-Knight has a vision for the East Liberty community that is vibrant and lively, but she says that important steps need to take place for that to happen, “We need to make sure that we are being diverse, that we are diversified, not acting diversified, because diversity is the key to our existence. There is room for all of us to be represented and to be shown as human. We need to be able to be inclusive as opposed to being exclusive.” To do this, there are specific things that government and companies need to do to step up, “It’s up to the people, the lawmakers, the Council-members, and the people who are in the decision making. Because there are people who were there who nodded their heads to remove brown and black people from the community. So therefore it’s with them and also with the companies. Any collaboration that they do to be able to say that we messed up, we did wrong, let’s correct this wrong and implement and execute and assist these people who are eager to want to be business owners because they want to be a part of the community. They also want to be able to build a legacy for their family and do something that is effective and beneficial to their growth, so therefore they need that type of assistance to be able to make their dreams… There has been too much that has happened and we have come too far for people or companies to move like snails in order for greatness to happen. We need to move now, we need to move strongly.”
Hearing firsthand about Mrs. Price-Knight’s story was a powerful experience. It is a story of pain but also hope, and hope is an emotion that bleeds through and is represented by the new mural. Mrs. Price-Knight has a message for Obama students, “Do not fear, believe in yourself, and know that failure is just not trying. If you don’t try, you won’t know if you would have done well or not. So therefore, take note from the elders, your parents, your guardians, or anyone that is willing to offer wisdom. We can learn from everyone, even from an adult or someone who is willing to teach…So therefore I want them to know that this world is a big classroom and they should walk around with a pen and paper in their hands and take note. Young people should take notice of what is going on, and capture how they can take part even at their tender age and at whatever stage they are at. Therefore, great things can happen once we all realize that we all can take part in making and growing our environment and making it better. We all have the possibility to be impactful right where we are.”
Founded in February of 2022, We strive to inform and voice the Obama Academy student body