Local Muralist Chris Rogers Sparks Conversation Around the Black Lives Matter Movement

Chris Rogers (Photo by John Anderson)

Prolific local artist Chris Rogers speaks often about his progress and success in recovery and has related substance abuse disorders to the disease of racism: You can't begin to heal until you acknowledge there is a problem. Rogers said that following George Floyd's death in late May, something died in him as well: the fear of making waves. So he quickly began work on a poignant mural on East Fourth Street, If HE Can't Breathe, WE Can't Breathe, designed to do just that. Inspired by a goal to spark conversation and action, it depicts the faces of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, and Austin's Mike Ramos, with Colin Kaepernick somberly kneeling below them among scenes of police violence and intimidation. Chris Haywood's short film "Hashtags & Halos" shows how the mural brought a middle-aged white conservative woman who admittedly "didn't get" the Black Lives Matter movement at first into a dialogue with the artist, and they spoke openly about how she had initially believed Kaepernick's actions were disrespectful of the troops and the flag. Rogers listened without judgment and asked, "What if we could all have conversations like this all the time?" That's why we need artists like him, to confront us with uncomfortable truths, to spark dialogue, to help us face the disease so healing can begin.

If HE Can’t Breathe, WE Can’t Breathe, 807 E. Fourth; "Hashtags & Halos," www.vimeo.com/441357564

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Katherine McNevins
Austin Film Society’s Doc Days Returns
Austin Film Society’s Doc Days Returns
Third edition opens with Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground

Sept. 14, 2021

Austin Film Festival Announces Second Wave of Programming
AFF Announces Second Wave
Local voices are spotlighted in the new round of eight fest films

Sept. 9, 2021


Chris Rogers, 20 in 2020, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, Chris Haywood, Colin Kaepernick

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle