A mural of monarch butterflies celebrating education and the immigrant experience has a new home on Buford Highway, months after the original painting was erased due to political differences.
Yehimi Cambron, a Cross Keys High School art teacher, will be unveiling a new monarch mural on Friday, April 26, at the Latin American Association, 2750 Buford Hwy N.E., at 6 p.m. There will also be a panel discussion titled, “#HeretoStay: Immigration Advocacy in Our Public Spaces” that will discuss creating art in immigrant communities and how politics, race and other subjects play a role in these conversations, according to organizers.
Cambron was selected to paint her first mural on the side of the iconic Havana Sandwich Shop as part of a 2017 collaboration between Living Walls and We Love BuHi to bring public art to Buford Highway. Living Walls is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that creates public art to inspire social change, according to its website. We Love BuHi is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting a livable, inclusive and sustainable Buford Highway.
Cambron’s mural included a monarch butterfly merged with a pencil and book to express “education is liberation.” The mural also included the hashtag “#heretostay.” The #heretostay was part of a message to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients like herself, known as “Dreamers,” and other immigrants, that they deserve to live in the U.S. despite backlash from the current administration, she has said.
In late 2018, the “#heretostay” message was allegedly vandalized and the Havana Sandwich Shop owner, Debbie Benedit, asked Cambron not to replace it. Cambron did replace the slogan, however, because she said it was essential to her art and because she discussed the political importance of her mural with Benedit before she painted it.
Benedit painted over the entire mural and said in a public statement she and her restaurant wanted to remain “neutral” on political issues.
Cambron has gone on to paint more murals, including as part of the “Off the Wall” public art project by WonderRoot and the host committee for this year’s Super Bowl to paint murals throughout downtown Atlanta depicting the city’s Civil Rights legacy.
The artist, We Love BuHi and Living Walls have been searching for a new home to recreate a version of the original butterfly mural with the same message. Recently, the Latin American Association donated a wall to the art. The mural includes the words “Here to Stay” and, in Spanish, “Aqui Estamos.”