Janet Braun-Reinitz

In the spring of 1947, when I was nine years old, a heated discussion erupted at my family dinner table. It was about the one subject dear to all our hearts – baseball. In a household fiercely divided between NY Giant and Brooklyn Dodger fans, it was hardly an unusual focus as the season was about to commence.

But this was different.

It took me a few minutes to realize that what was in question was not whether Jackie Robinson had the talent to finally bring a championship to Brooklyn, but that he was Black. When the proverbial “light bulb” went on in my young child’s brain, I realized that I had never even noticed that there were no Black ball players, and in my suburban cocoon, no Black friends or neighbors or teachers or doctors or bus drivers. No Blacks period.

My “seeing” was forever changed.

Fourteen years later I was a freedom rider, arrested and jailed in Little Rock, Arkansas. To this day, when asked what in my background led to my ongoing involvement in the civil rights movement, I simply reply, “Jackie Robinson made me do it.”

I am a painter, muralist and activist. Since 1984 I have collaborated in painting more than 50 community murals in NYC, elsewhere in the USA and internationally. My studio work has been widely exhibited, most recently in a solo exhibition, “Troubled Waters”, Spazio Bocciofila, Venice, Italy, 2016.

In addition, I have twice been the recipient of “Anonymous”, a grant for the creation of political art (2014 and 2009), as well as other grants and prizes and am the co-author of On The Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City.

My works embody personal and art histories to complicate and intensify contemporary issues. Whether large or small in scale, they call the viewer to a new kind of listening, a possibility of seeing otherwise.

Janet’s piece, “Don’t Shoot,” appears in albeit 4.1: Black Lives Matter, and “Bitterest Tears,” appears in the albeit 4.2: Black Lives Matter.