They are not related — but they are definitely connected.
Artist Hawa Diallo gets the question all the time about her subject, Amadou Diallo.
Hawa is a self-taught artist who specializes in works about beauty and pain. Amadou infamously died in 1999 in a hail of 41 bullets outside his Bronx home when cops mistook his wallet for a gun.
Hawa, like Amadou, a Fulani from West Africa, unveiled her restorations Saturday to an 18-foot mural in Amadou’s honor. Since 2001, the life-size tribute has filled a wall along Wheeler Ave., and marks the spot where Amadou was struck by 19 of the shots fired by cops on February 4, 1999.
“I’m honored to have had the responsibility to restore this mural and bring attention to an important moment in New York’s history,” Hawa said.
“The fight is not over — this mural is a reminder of the work our city and our nation needs to do, so that lives like Amadou’s are not lost in the future.”
The image, like the community’s anger, faded over time, which upset local residents in Soundview who didn’t want the memory to disappear.
After Amadou’s death, a local artist painted a mural of the frowning Amadou next to four uniformed cops wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods.
Hawa has replaced the faded image with one depicting Diallo’s smiling face in front of both a Guinean and an American flag.
Diallo’s mother, who attended the unveiling of the restored mural, says the transition of images reflects her own healing process.
The new mural was unveiled in preparation for the second annual Amadou Diallo Foundation Benefit Dinner, which will take place February 4, 2017 at Harlem’s Alhambra Ballroom. The event will honor former Mayor David Dinkins, former U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Hawa came to the U.S. as a refugee and survivor of genocide. After receiving political asylum in the U.S., she began painting in her mid-40’s, using her near-photographic memory to produce paintings rich with the history of her African childhood.
Hawa’s paintings have received worldwide attention and her work was recently featured in the February 2016 issue of O magazine.