Artist restores mural memoralizing Diallo’s legacy

The newly restored 18-foot mural honors the site where African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, was shot and killed by police on February 4, 1999.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

A famous mural in the Bronx was recently restored by an up and coming artist.

On Saturday, January 28, emerging artist Hawa Diallo unveiled her new restoration of the Amadou Diallo mural in Soundview.

The 18-foot mural on the brick side wall of his residence, which was updated for the first time in over 15 years, commemorates and honors the life of Amadou, who was shot to death by police in front of his home at 1157 Wheeler Avenue on February 4, 1999.

The mural portrays a smiling Diallo in front of the American and Guinean flags and next to African cuisine. A message from Amadou on the mural reads, “Mom, I’m going to college.”

“I’m very honored to have had the responsibility of restoring this mural and bringing attention to an important moment in New York’s history,” Hawa said. “This mural is a reminder of the work our city and our nation needs to do so lives like Amadou’s are not lost in the future.”

Hawa, a Fulani from West Africa, came to the United States as a refugee after surviving a genocide. Painting since her mid-40s, Hawa uses near-photographic visual memory to produce paintings which remind her of her childhood, as well as beautiful and painful experiences from when she lived in Africa.

Though not related, Hawa and Amadou are both Fulani, a large and widely dispersed West Muslim ethic group based out of countries in West Africa, such as Nigeria, Guinea and Mali.

“This beautiful mural commemorating the life and legacy of Amadou Diallo holds a dear spot in my heart and a reminder of where we have been since that fateful night in Soundview, and where we want to go as we continue to fight for justice and equality,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The unveiling of the restored mural was held in preparation for the second annual Amadou Diallo Foundation Benefit Dinner, which will take place at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem on Saturday, February 4, the 18-year anniversary of the tragic incident.

The dinner will honor former congressman Charles Rangel, former mayor David Dinkins and Rev.Al Sharpton, while Emmy award-winning reporter and multimedia journalist AJ Ross will emcee the event.

Amadou, who came to the United States in the mid-1990s, was returning home in the early morning hours when police officers, in plain clothes fired 42 shots at him, 19 of which hit him, when he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet after being told not to move. He was unarmed.

It was later discovered that the police officers were in search of a serial rapist. Amadou matched the suspect’s description.

The mother of Eric Garner, who died while being handcuffed by police on Staten Island, was in attendance at the unveiling. Since it’s creation in 2001, the mural has become a popular Bronx attraction for tourists. The original earlier version of the mural depicted Diallo on the right side of the wall, with four police officers wearing Klu Klux Klan hoods on the left side.

(l-r) Balde Addoulaye; Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Kadiatou Diallo (Amadou Diallo’s mother; Hawa Bah, Mohamed Bah’s mother), artist Hawa Diallo and Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, were excited to unveil the restored Amadou Diallo mural.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

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