As the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organize against gun violence in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting that killed 17, mourning parents, too, are contributing to the fallen’s legacy.
Over the weekend, Manuel Oliver, the father of shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, pained a mural depicting his son’s image, his portrait flanked by the phrase, “We demand a change.” In a video posted by survivor and Parkland student activist Lex Michael, Oliver is seen brazenly writing the phrase in thick lines of black paint, his suffering manifesting in the fast, jagged movements of his brush.
Oliver created the tribute to his late son and the 16 other students and teachers killed in the Parkland shooting as part of an art exhibit titled “Parkland 17,” by artist Evan Pestaina, and organized by Miami Heat basketball player Dwyane Wade. The art exhibition, hosted for 17 hours across the weekend in Miami, included a “Ring Your Rep” phone booth, allowing attendees to contact their representatives regarding gun control policies.
Wade, whom Joaquin was a fan of and whose jersey he was buried in last month, had met with the Oliver family following the 17-year-old’s death and has dedicated the rest of his NBA season to the teenager, writing Joaquin’s name on the heels of his shoes for each game. Following his death, Joaquin’s father and mother, Patricia, founded Change the Ref, a non-profit organization for the engagement of youth and mobilization of youth activism.
Manuel Oliver punctuated the mural with flowers and signatures from Parkland suvivors and family. Oliver signed his name, “Guac’s Dad, Love You Forever,” referencing his son’s nickname, Guac.
Watch Joaquin’s father Manuel paint the mural of his son below: