INDIANAPOLIS — It's not your typical history lesson — an Indianapolis native is hoping his art can teach others about Black culture.
Rockland Page was born and raised in Indianapolis, and always loved art.
As a young man, he says he struggled to find art jobs.
"There were many times I would look for opportunities at big ad agencies or design firms and they would love my work but for some reason, I just wouldn't get hired," Page said.
Page says, as a Black man, he often faced discrimination when it came to looking for certain jobs.
So, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Starting in the basement of his home, he created Rock-a-block Brands.
From there, he opened a storefront in Merrillville, IN.
But one design has garnered national attention and went viral on TikTok. It's now a focal piece in an Indianapolis selfie studio.
Page designed a t-shirt called "Freedom Fighters" which features six prominent figures in the Black community.
"They took a chance, fought for the freedom. [They] fought for mine. At a time where Black voices weren't heard, they screamed even louder," Page said.
The t-shirt design has since been put on several other items, and recently has been featured on a mural at Selfie WRLD Indy.
The design features Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, Ida B. Wells and William Dubois. Each person on the mural played a prominent role in emancipation for the Black community.
"They worked tirelessly 365 days a year for freedom," Page said.
But the artwork isn't your typical artwork. It's interactive and comes to life when you scan it on your phone using the Instagram app.
Page says the opportunity to display his art on a larger scale has been a dream.
"These have only been a few inches tall on my shirts and my computer screens. But to see them roughly four feet tall, life size is just amazing," he said. "I feel like I'm making a difference."
Page's goal is to shape the hearts and minds of the next generations — just as the freedom fighters did back in their time.
"Even though we've come so far as a society, there are so many more ways we need to go," Page said.
Page's daughter Cortland says she is proud of her dad and seeing the growth his business has seen and says she
"Just because we are this color doesn't mean we can't be friends, we can't do certain things, we can't go certain places," Cortland said.
Page says he hopes his art will spark conversation and allow an opportunity for everyone to learn.
"We are all just people here. We are all the same on the inside even though we come from different culture, different backgrounds. At the core, we are all still the same," Page said.
You can find the life size mural at Selfie WRLD Indy on Indianapolis' northwest side near 86th and Michigan.