A look at the ‘Demand Justice’ sculpture that pops up for just 45 minutes at a time


CHICAGO — As a new day rises over Chicago’s lakefront, a massive and heavy sculpture slowly makes its way to a new home — at least for the next 45 minutes.

“I think for me what I really connect with, hauling and carrying it around, is it connects me to the message of the struggle it represents,” Chicago ‘Demand Justice’ artist, Maxwell Emcays, said.

Like life, the message isn’t always clear at first, hidden in a complicated web until you step back and the words “Demand Justice” boldly pop out.

“It’s just a constant theme that has been part of my life since I can remember — the idea of having to demand justice,” Emcays said. 

Words bridging the silhouettes of two men who gave their life fighting for it more than 50 years ago.

“With Malcom X connecting with his spirit, one thing he said is freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody, and Martin Luther King, who was sometimes seen as passive, he said that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It is demanded,” Emcays said.

two civil rights leaders with radically different approaches to the same goal. “and that’s what this piece is all about,” Emcays said. “Whether you’re on this side of the piece or that side, this side of the conversation or that side, I believe down the middle is a place all of us should go.”

 Emcays is using his art to activate humanism.

“It’s really beautiful the conversations they spark and the energy. To watch people stop, think and contemplate and have conversations about it,” Emcays said. 

It’s those moments that motivate Emcays to continue dragging his piece around town, even though the journey takes its toll.

“You know, it’s real. It’s like life. It breaks. It comes back together,” Emcays said.

Advocating for the rights of all is always worth the trip. 

To find out more about Emcays’ “Demand Justice” pop up art installation, check out demandjusticechicago.org.


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