Mural on Campus Advocates for Educational Equality

May 17, 2016

Street artist Rone and non-profit organization Not a Crime and its Education Is Not A Crime campaign have collaborated to paint a compelling mural on the wall of our campus at 70 East 129th Street.

The mural tells the story of Nasim Biglari, 29, an Iranian woman of the Bahá'í faith, and portrays her reading. Nasim was denied educational opportunities in Iran because of her family's religious beliefs. The Bahá'ís are Iran’s largest religious minority, and are often harassed and jailed, denied livelihoods, and are barred from teaching or studying at universities.

Nasim was forced to leave her homeland to find opportunity in the United States. Today, she is a photographer and lives in California. She has been accepted to UC Berkeley and UC San Diego to continue her education. The mural's message is a powerful statement about the importance of education, and the challenge that many still face to get the education they want and deserve.

Nasim’s story is rooted in the mission of Storefront Academy Harlem. Many of the children who come to us face insurmountable challenges that stand in the way of their education. At the Storefront, we pride ourselves on meeting every child where they are, and providing a joyful learning environment for students who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Rone, and coordinator of Education Is Not A Crime, Saleem Vaillancourt, met with our seventh grade class to talk about Rone's work and the massive street art project in Harlem. The students asked Rone and Saleem a lot of compelling questions, including probing into why they chose Harlem for this project, as well as the materials Rone uses.

“Storefront Academy is celebrating 50 years of educating students in a very powerful way,” Donovan Rivens, a 7th grade student at Storefront Academy Harlem, said. “I think it’s great to have this mural on the wall of our building representing the freedom of education.”

We're proud to be able to use our building to share this powerful message, and to remind our students every day the importance of education and that they should not let anything stand in the way of their success.