Solidarity in the Time of COVID-19: Salt Lake City, Memorial Culture, and Black Lives Matter


John E. Priegnitz (Utah State University)

Memorial culture is the manifestation of a community in grief symbolizing community solidarity. This paper focuses on The Black Lives Matter Memorial/mural in downtown Salt Lake City, which was constructed after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In a show of solidarity, anonymous artists came together in Salt Lake City to construct the memorial in reaction to the wide-reaching trauma of police brutality. Drawing on folklorists’ work on memorial culture and my own fieldwork observations, I argue that the BLM memorial serves not only as an outlet for community grief, but for peaceful protest and an ongoing dialogue for social justice, particularly in a city with a predominantly white population.

Part of 37-04 Place and Togetherness in COVID-19, Wednesday, October 20, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm