For A Grassroots Politician, A Grassroots Arts Assist
Lucy Gellman | Arts Council of Greater New Haven | July 8, 2020
The cartoon begs a viewer to come closer. A man lifts his hands to his chest, frozen momentarily in time. Beside him, a young woman cocks her head, and raises her hands to her shoulders. They’re deep into the history of Juneteenth. He’s just gotten to the fact that chattel slavery didn’t officially end until 1865—two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation—when she cuts in.
“But why did anyone care?” she asks.
“Because real freedom means that all of us are free!” he answers.
The man pictured is Justin Farmer, a member of Hamden’s Legislative Council who is running to represent Hamden, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Naugatuck, Derby, and Woodbridge in the Connecticut State Senate (“instead of gerrymandered, I say diverse,” he joked about the district). In his grassroots bid for state office, he has received an unexpected creative assist: young artists who are lending their skills to his political fight.
“I think it's another way for people to engage and be part of the political process,” Farmer said in a recent phone call. “We're trying to show an outside perspective. What's more grassroots than having community members submit their art? If you hear me speak at a rally, at a protest, at an event … I want to know how you see our campaign. These images have been amazing and inspiring to me.”