Nov 4, 2021

The Black Paradise Project brings joy to Black Philadelphians

by: Ilse García Romero

With support from Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light program and the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, the Black Paradise Project will partner with Black-owned businesses, organizations, and individuals to host monthly joy-based events.

Spaces will be created for Black people to experience relief through self-care. Upon the conclusion of these joy-based events, imagery and survey responses from these experiences will be used to develop a Philadelphia mural that will communicate the power of Black joy in the face of racial oppression.

The Black Paradise Project was inspired by the historic Paradise Park, near Silver Springs, Florida. Paradise Park was an all Black resort and a haven for the Black community from 1949 to 1969. The park provided refuge to vacation and cope with the harsh racial violence occurring at the time.

Fifty-two years later, the Black Paradise Project aims to provide spaces for the same reasons. Created by visual artist Yannick Lowery and counseling psychologist, Dr. Kimberly Marie Ashby, the Black Paradise Project aims to mitigate the mental health consequences of exposure to racism by providing opportunities for Black people to share their experiences and engage in joy.

“In a society that has historically discouraged the continuance of Black life, imagining Black futures is a revolutionary act,” says Yannick Lowery. He is an interdisciplinary artist, describing his current collage work as being activated by societal justice/injustice, materiality, and visions of alternate futures.

Kimberly currently acts as the Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Ladipo Group, providing psychotherapy to Black community members within Philadelphia and facilitating diversity, equity, and inclusion training and consulting for a number of global and regional organizations, companies, and non-profits. Kimberly has a background in facilitating various forms of outreach centered on social justice, anti-racism, racial identity, and mindfulness meditation.

For more information on upcoming events, to take a survey on the mental health effects of racism, and to find mental health resources, visit or call (833) 4 THE POC.

Black Paradise Project Wall 

If you own — or know of — a wall that would work well for the Black Paradise Project, please complete this form, and we will reach out to you. We are looking preferably for Black-owned businesses and organizations for a wall that can host a mural about the mental health effects of racism.

Last updated: Feb 21, 2022

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howard harris says

i am 1000% interested in this project. please send me info and contact me on events, volunteer services or even compensated jobs concerning this organization.