Never Forget: 5 Years After His Death, Family, Activists Continue to Build Tamir Rice’s Legacy

Demonstrators march on Ontario St. on Dec. 29, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014.
Photo: Angelo Merendino (Getty Images)

The tragedy of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the young black boy with the cherubic face, will never leave me. We see a lot of extrajudicial abuse and murder here at The Root, but this one is especially long-abiding, given his age, how Tamir and his sister were treated after he was shot, and, of course, the fact that those responsible received no kind of punishment for killing him.

And yet. And yet.

There is life after this most tragic death.

Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, will be building on the legacy of her son Tamir by hosting two events on Wednesday in support of the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, a community space offering artistic, educational and civic youth programs for the young people of Cleveland. In 2018, Rice purchased a 3,500 square-foot building and began developing the center after receiving a wrongful death settlement from the city of Cleveland and the two officers involved in Tamir’s death.

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“The arts helped Tamir with self-expression,” said Samaria Rice in a press release sent to The Root. “The development of the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center is an opportunity to build Tamir’s legacy and give hope through the arts to children living in Cleveland’s inner city.”

The evening event, titled, “Art, Activism and the Legacy of Tamir Rice: A Fifth Anniversary Commemoration in Music, Dance, Film and Visual Art” is free and open to the public, and will be held at at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Wednesday.

The Mistress of Ceremonies is human rights activist, writer, strategist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi.

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The evening will also feature a conversation between artist and activist Theaster Gates, who used the gazebo where Tamir was shot as a traveling art installation, and journalist and activist Bakari Kitwana; remarks by artists Michael Rakowitz, EJ Hill, Shelia Pree Bright, and Amanda D. King; engaging performances by rapper Jasiri X and dancer Lexy Lattimore; and a screening of the Emmy-nominated documentary short Traveling While Black.

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There will also be a benefit luncheon preceding the event, hosted by Samaria Rice and Theaster Gates.

Rice told The Root that an architectural consultant estimates that it will take about $1.5 million to complete and open the Tamir Rice center, including furniture; Rice says she is hopeful that it will open in 2020.

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For tickets to the evening event, please visit the Cleveland Museum of Art’s webpage. For tickets to the benefit luncheon, visit The Tamir Rice Legacy Luncheon. If you’d like to make a donation to the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, please go here.

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About the author

Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.