Art & Black Joy: Attacked on State Street

"It's a celebration of self, a celebration of family, a celebration of overcoming struggles. And, you know, some people would say that just being Black and alive in America is a revolutionary act. That to be Black and alive, and full of joy is a revolutionary act."—Anwar Floyd-Pruitt

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Art & Black Joy: Attacked on State Street

Clip: S2 Ep4 | 2m 11s

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt describes being attacked while painting a Black Lives Matter mural.

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Anwar Floyd-Pruitt

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt is an artist, curator, and puppeteer from Milwaukee. A graduate of UW-Madison (MFA ’20), Floyd-Pruitt also earned a BFA from UW-Milwaukee (’16) and BA in Psychology from Harvard University (’99). The Chazen Museum of Art, Edgewood College, Mount Mary University and the Museum of Wisconsin Art have hosted solo exhibitions of his collages, paintings, and mixed-media self-portraits. In addition to leading puppet making workshops, Floyd-Pruitt writes and performs a family friendly singalong called Hip Hop Puppet Party. In 2021 he was awarded a grant from the Jane Henson Foundation to engage at-risk youth in puppetry. Floyd-Pruitt is Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. 


Anwar Floyd-Pruitt: I was painting a Black Lives Matter mural, someone who self-identified as a vet, but I can only identify them as a drunk, white man, oder than me, in the middle of the day, came up to me and said, “Well, why doesn’t my life matter?” I was holding a large stencil that said “Black Lives Matter” many times. He came up and attached me. And, in the end, he damaged the stencil. But it was the middle of the day, right there outside of the, I guess, Warby Parker at State and Gorham and, you know, he kind of rushed into the bus stop, attacked me. I punched him once in sort of self-defense. And, mind you, I am 44 years old, I was 43 at the time, maybe I was 42. I’ve never punched a person in my entire life because I am still a man of peace and I’ve lived this peaceful life. And I guess that also speaks to a certain amount of privilege to have *not* been attacked

Angela: Not to have to fight. 

Anwar: And so, you know, I punched this man. There were three young Black men on the bus stop who saw that go down and they were, you know, were willing to jump in and help me. 

And I was like– I stopped them from jumping in, you know? And then the guy yells, “Well, I’m a veteran! Why doesn’t my life matter?” And. . . 


Angela: So that’s what provoked the attack was his perception that your sign signaled to him that his life didn’t matter? 

Anwar: Right, right. And what a failing. What a failing on part of our community, on the part of culture, right? What a failing on the part of whoever are supposed to be his resources so that he thinks that his life does matter.

Angela: Watch more Why Race Matters online and on the PBS app on your phone, tablet, Roku, or any other streaming device. 

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