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Child Welfare League of America

Date: APRIL 14, 2005

Joyce Johnson: 202/942-0244,
Cell: 703/980-7641



Cuban-American Artist, Xavier Cortada,
Unveils Mural Honoring Children’s Memorial Flag


WASHINGTON DC - Cuban-American artist and activist Xavier Cortada will unveil an original mural in support of the Child Welfare League of America’s (CWLA) Children’s Memorial Flag on April 22 at the IDEA Public Charter School in Washington DC.

Cortada’s mural will include drawings and messages from IDEA School students and concerned citizens nationwide about the issue of child abuse and neglect and violence prevention.  The Miami-based artist ( has worked collaboratively with diverse groups across the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Africa to create pro-social community murals and participant-driven art projects. Cortada’s artwork has appeared at the White House, the World Bank, Hershey’s, Nike, the World AIDS Conference, and the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Courthouse.

Messages to be included in the Children’s Memorial Flag mural can be submitted at through April 19.

Cortada will formally present the Children’s Memorial Flag mural to the IDEA School—where it will be displayed for 10 years—during a ceremony with students, staff, and local officials at 9 a.m. on April 22, which is Children’s Memorial Flag Day. The IDEA School is located at 1027 45th Street, NE, Washington DC.

Additionally, IDEA students will show their commitment to nonviolence and honor local children lost to abuse or neglect by reading poetry, singing songs, and holding a candlelight vigil during the Children’s Memorial Flag Day ceremony.

CWLA initiated a partnership with the IDEA school after a fire was deliberately set at the school during the early morning hours of December 7. The fire caused substantial damage to the building. To help the school community heal, CWLA introduced an innovative poetry curriculum to the 11th and 12th grade humanities students. Through the poetry writing exercises, students have been able to express their feelings about the fire and its aftermath, as well as the realities of growing up in an urban setting beset by violence and crime. They presented their poetry in a Youth Poetry Slam at CWLA’s National Conference March 9.

The IDEA students will again publicly present their poetry during the Children’s Memorial Flag Day ceremony. Washington DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief, Adrian H. Thompson; Executive Director of Charter Schools for the District of Columbia Board of Education, Dr. Brenda Belton; and a representative from the Office of the Chief of Police will unite with the IDEA students outside of the school building to raise the Children’s Memorial Flag and unveil the mural.

“This mural will serve as a powerful and visible reminder of how the IDEA students overcame their struggles and their fears from first-hand experience of violence in their community and, through artistic expression and civic engagement, created a masterpiece for their fellow and future students to enjoy for years to come,” says Shay Bilchik, CWLA President and CEO.

CWLA launched the Children’s Memorial Flag Campaign in 1998 to draw public awareness to the problem of nearly 3 million children reported abused and neglected each year. The campaign’s centerpiece is the Children’s Memorial Flag, a banner depicting five doll-like figures of children standing side-by-side, holding hands against a red backdrop. A sixth child in the center is represented by a thin, white chalk outline, symbolizing a child lost to violence. In 2001, a Congressional bill designated the fourth Friday in April National Children’s Memorial Flag Day.


click here to read messages





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Xavier Cortada has exhibited his works in museums, galleries, and cultural venues around the world and has pioneered the use of the Internet in collaborative art-making. The Miami-based Cuban-American artist, attorney, and activist has worked collaboratively with diverse groups across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Africa to create pro-social community murals and participant-driven art projects. 

Cortada has created art for:

The White House
The World Bank
The Florida Capitol
The Florida Supreme Court
Miami-Dade County Juvenile Courthouse
Miami-Dade Art in Public Places
Miami Art Museum
World AIDS Conferences

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