LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Annual Arkansas Peace Week kicked off this weekend at the 7th Street Murals in Little Rock. People were adding to the murals with the theme of inclusion and peace in mind as organizers prepare for the rest of the week with events.
The mission of peace week is to host activities that educate and promote peace by highlighting different organizations and individuals that are making a difference in their community. Kicking off their 7th annual week, they're at the 7th Street Murals.
Hamid Ebrahimifar said he’s been painting long before the murals went up on the concrete walls, but is a volunteer artist. He created the outline of a train for people to come in and add on their color schemes and drawings. Groups came out to add to the mural.
"The concept really is simple. It's based on a song that I remember when I was much younger, when I was a teenager by Cat Stevens. It’s called peace train," Ebrahimifar said. "I just wanted to envision something that celebrates all people, all around the train. We need a peace train. For sure. So this is symbolic, like we really need to find other alternatives.”
Melissa Gill is a volunteer artist and a professor of arts for Hendrix college. She was inspired to create a mural of artist and activist, Mayumi Oda from a photograph. "She is most known for organizing Japanese Americans to end Japanese protests against a famous plutonium shipment that was going over to Japan,” she said.
Next to Gill, Tanya Hollifield is getting inspiration from someone close to home.
She said it’s Arkansas senator Joyce Elliot’s compassion that inspired her to paint a portrait. "Joyce is the first one that came to mind and not to mention that she just has such a strong beautiful face too. She's got a stern look, but yet it smiles at the corners of the mouth,” Hollifield said.
She's focused on each detail and said she wants the portrait to fully capture the impact that Elliot has when she rallies for justice.
Featured events include:
• Peace Across Faiths Interfaith Service and Picnic (Sept. 19): Celebrating peace from different faiths and non-faith perspectives as attendees enjoy a meal and make new friends.
•Peace Week Summit (Sept. 25): Annual event for teens and young adults as attendees commemorate this year's theme, Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.
•Arkansas Peace Fest (Sept. 26): Family friendly event with fun for all ages. Lessons for youth and adults to take concrete steps to counter violence and injustice.
•Peace Week in our Schools: A program to help schools and youth organizations take concrete steps to counter the threat of violence in our society.
•Peace Week Mural: Murals on 7th Street sending a message of inclusion and peace.