"It could have been me. It could have been me."
These were the words uttered by painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was deeply shaken after he heard the story of a black graffiti artist who was beaten to death by New York City police. Seeing his own life reflected in the death of a fellow artist, Basquiat went on to create Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart), not only to commemorate the young man's death, but also to challenge the state-sanctioned brutality that men of color could face for pursuing their art in public spaces.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2013 NPR. This blog post first appeared online in Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity (web log) (September 16, 2013).