Gloucestershire Black Lives Matter activist unveils sculpture highlighting rural racism
The organizer of a Black Lives Matter protest in Gloucestershire has unveiled a new piece of art that highlights her experiences of racism in her hometown of Forest of Dean.
Khady Gueye, from Lydney, led the local movement in June 2020 to raise awareness of racial inequalities after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white American policeman.
She overcame several setbacks to organize the peaceful protest, which sparked a backlash from community members and even forced to the resignation of the deputy mayor of the city.
Since then she has campaigned tirelessly for racial equality in rural Gloucestershire and created a local equality commission to tackle issues of social injustice and racism.
Now, to celebrate the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail’s 35th anniversary, Khady has worked with Bristol poet Zakiya McKenzie to create a work that draws on lived experiences of racial prejudice.
Their original poem “Soil Unsoiled” was engraved on a wooden sculpture at the Forestry England site in Beechenhurst, Coleford, and aims to create a point of reflection and contemplation for visitors.
Posting on Twitter after the unveiling on Friday July 16, Khady said: “The most surreal and humiliating moment of this trip so far.
“So proud and honored to see the words of @ZakiyaMedia reflecting the experience of black people in rural England.
“Zakiya you are an inspiration and @managingthetilt you brought Zakiya’s words to life so well.”
The piece was constructed using wood that has been charred and blackened to preserve it and captures the local charcoal traditions of the Forest of Dean.
It coincides with the opening of ‘Forest to Forest’, a new temporary trail that runs alongside the existing one.