From Oakland, C.A. to Charlotte, N.C. and from Albany, N.Y. to Topeka, K.S., communities are emblazoning their streets with the words "Black Lives Matter."
On June 4 at 8 p.m. eight artists joined a Zoom call about a secret project commissioned by Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C. They were tasked with painting a mural of fifty-foot-high letters spelling out "Black Lives Matter" across two blocks of the street leading to the White House by Friday afternoon. Many debated the political consequences of taking part in such a project. "Some were unsure of the possible backlash—if it was a political play between the mayor and President Trump. They didn’t know if the mayor would back them up if something happened, or if President Trump would retaliate," Keyonna Jones, one of the artists involved, told The New Yorker.
This is the new 2-block-long mural on the streets leading to the White House, painted by the city of Washington, D.C. It reads: “Black Lives Matter." https://t.co/xg7s1Z704C pic.twitter.com/XDiqwS7IkI— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 5, 2020
In the end, the group agreed to work on the mural on the condition of anonymity. The eight artists met at 3:30 a.m. the following morning and soon ran into a series of challenges. It took them three hours to paint the first "B" and then partway through the next letter, they ran out of paint. The small multiracial crew had to wait until 7 a.m. to for more paint, which turned out to be a different shade of yellow than what they'd been using. As Sixteenth Street started coming to life, passersby stopped by with offers to help and the artist started directing volunteers where to paint. "The community took over," said Jones. "I don’t know how many there were in the end."
Washington's new BLACK LIVES MATTER mural is so huge, you can see it from space.https://t.co/UBsP8ySrwv— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
Less than a week later, similar murals are popping up on city streets from coast to coast. From Oakland, C.A. to Charlotte, N.C. and from Albany, N.Y. to Topeka, K.S., communities are emblazoning their streets with the words "Black Lives Matter." Steve Hansen, a city council member in Sacramento, was inspired to commission one for his city after watching news coverage of the new Washington mural. He immediately thought of B.A.M.R., a local African-American artist whose real name is Demetris Washington, for the project and reached out to him to paint a mural along the grassy plaza around Sacramento’s capitol.
What happened next mirrored the events in D.C. Complete strangers came together at the last moment to help B.A.M.R. finish the mammoth mural before a curfew went into force. "Out of nowhere, someone showed up with an airless sprayer for paint. Someone else brought a generator. There were conversations among people. Some were running home to get other things. People were giving me credit for coördinating, but it was spontaneous," he revealed. "I have never seen anything like this in my life."
On Friday evening, ahead of several planned demonstrations in Sacramento, people gathered at the Capitol Mall to prepare the lawns for a "Black Lives Matter" painting, led by artist Demetris "BAMR" Washington.— CapRadio News (@CapRadioNews) June 6, 2020
📸 Photo by @CPR_Andrew. pic.twitter.com/Qk678WmSs6
Meanwhile, in Oakland, several hundred people gathered over the weekend for their own painting party, reports Forbes. The result is this bright yellow #Black Lives Matter mural spanning a trio of blocks along Oakland’s 15th Street.
In Charlotte, each letter was completed by a different artist, leaving South Tryon Street between 3rd and 4th with a powerful piece of art.
In Lark Street, New York, the 'In Our Own Voices' group painted a yellow Black Lives Matter mural that mirrored the giant road banner in Washington D.C.
In Topeka, the mural found a place in the main parking lot in the North Topeka Arts District.
Check this out! Big yellow letters spell out Black Lives Matter in the parking lot behind the Norseman Brewery in Topeka. This street mural mirrors the ones lining a street in Washington D.C.— Hannah Brandt (@hannahKSNT) June 8, 2020
Video From Jared Hitchens with the Greater Topeka Partnership pic.twitter.com/K68S71Uskj
Meanwhile, Berkeley is expected to get a Black Lives Matter street mural between City Hall and MLK Civic Center park this week.
You got a taker here! I just spoke with the City Manager and she will work with Public Works to paint Black Lives Matter on Milvia in front of City Hall. She mentioned it will start tomorrow. @berkeleyside https://t.co/wLft7viiL9— Lori #STAYHOME Droste (@loridroste) June 8, 2020
Dallas, Texas, now has a Black Lives Matter mural on Marilla Street in front of City Hall.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, artists painted "End Racism Now" on Martin Street leading to the Capitol.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised a "Black Lives Matter" street mural in each of the city’s five boroughs—Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island—soon. "With a street in every borough painted with the words Black Lives Matter, we are recognizing where we have been and looking to where we will go," he said. These mural are unlikely to be the last in the country.