Alisha Wormsley, There Are Black People in the Future, 2018. Photo courtesy Jon Rubin.
On March 3rd a sign reading “THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE” was erected as part of The Last Billboard, a project that has been taking place for eight years in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood. Three days before the sign’s planned removal, it disappeared overnight. After receiving a few inquiries over the sign’s message, the building’s landlord, We Do Property, removed the sign on the grounds that it broke a lease agreement prohibiting “distasteful, offensive, erotic, political…” content. But following a firestorm of backlash from local residents and online responses, the landlord has issued a statement saying that they “are giving the tenant full approval to reinstate the original sign.” Alisha Wormsley, the artist behind the sign, also released a statement, commenting on her inspiration from Afrofuturism which “dares to suggest that not only will black people exist in the future, but that we will be makers and shapers of it, too.” It is has yet to be decided if Wormsley’s sign will return to the rapidly gentrified area of East Liberty, but Hyperallergic reported that The Last Billboard will decide on its future following “a period of reflection and community discussion.”