By Jessica Stewart, My Modern Met
Over a week ago, Washington, D.C.’s mayor commissioned a sprawling mural that spells out “Black Lives Matter;” now, cities across the nation are creating their own tributes to the movement. In some cities, artists have chosen to repeat the bold yellow block letters of the D.C. mural. In others, artists have taken their own liberties and gotten creative with the design. From Seattle to Albany, cities coast to coast are making sure their voices are heard with these proud visual statements.
Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed the statement piece in Washington on June 5 and since that time groups have been coming together across the country to create their own Black Lives Matter artwork. In Seattle, a large group of artists took a colorful approach to their work. Each letter was assigned to a different artist and they were left to make their mark individually. Artists in Charlotte, North Carolina took a similar approach to their sprawling mural on South Tryon Street.
Meanwhile, in Berkeley and Albany, artists used the effective yellow lettering that made an impact in D.C. on their murals. Location for the artwork is also key, with many pieces going up in strategic areas. Sacramento’s mural, which was initiated by the city council, is located on the Capitol Mall leading up to the capitol building. Murals in Dallas and Montpellier, Vermont have gone up in front of City Hall and the Vermont Statehouse, respectively. In Los Angeles, artists covered the street between the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a powerful message of solidarity with Black lives, including those within the LGBT+ community, with a colorful display of “All Black Lives Matter.”
We’ll continue to see more murals go up around the country, as a Black Lives Matter piece is set to be painted in Syracuse, New York on Friday. In New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that one mural would go up in each borough, the first mural has popped up on Brooklyn. Located in Bed-Stuy, the mural is not part of the mayor’s initiative, but was put together by city council members and the Billie Holiday Theatre.
“We thought that since this community has been historically Black, and it’s the last bastion of Black homeownership, the last bastion of Black small business, this will be the right place in New York City to begin the Black Lives Matter mural movement,” says City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr.
Though the murals make bold statements, some organizations like Black Lives Matter DC, have been critical of the work. Warning that these murals can be purely performative, they’re encouraging politicians to take concrete actions, like defunding the police, to assist with the movement.
Even so, these bold statements are clear visual reminders that Black Lives Matter is here to stay and that the demands of millions around the country cannot be ignored. Now is the time for change.
Across the U.S., Black Lives Matter murals are popping up as powerful statements against racism.
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It’s such a privilege to live in a city where something like the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone exists. Beautiful art, engaging dialogue, and an eye-opening display of what community should look and feel like. I’m so thankful for my experience there today listening and observing and to witness two blocks of pavement transformed into an absolute masterpiece. And if you know what they’re looking for in terms of donations please comment below and I can drop off what I can tomorrow!! Have some sleeping bags and jackets I can certainly contribute. IG accounts of the artists: B: @kimishaturner L: @perrypaints A: @onesevennine C: @thecurlynugget K: @thesoufender L: @drakesignanddesign I: @stattheartist V: @aohamer E: @barryjohnson.co S: @snekeism M: @moses_sun and more A: @artbreakerbt TT: @tdubcustoms E: @future_crystals R: @artvaultseattle Artist: @thekingfroshow *In any reposts please credit ALL artists above before me *To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email email@example.com – any potential proceeds will be donated
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) June 10, 2020
We are honored to share this tryon street with such an amazing mural
| Black Lives Matter Mural captured by @IamDonaldWilson | @MaleekLoyd #CLT #BLM #Mural #Uptown #BlackLivesMatter #ArtActivation pic.twitter.com/OOHi1tZUgy
— Harvey B.Gantt Center (@HBGanttCenter) June 10, 2020
BED-STUY, NEW YORK
— @SCOOTERCASTER (FNTV) (@ScooterCasterNY) June 14, 2020
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
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OUR DOWNTOWN AND DEEP ELLUM NEIGHBORHOODS ARE NOW COVERED WITH MURALS TO SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER! – It started in Deep Ellum after businesses boarded up storefronts – artists came out to decorate the plywood boards with powerful messages and images – some calling for hope, some recognizing the names of black women and men who have faced police brutality and injustice. – And then it moved to Downtown Dallas where students from Booker T. Washington High School, community artists and Neiman Marcus employees used the boarded up window spaces to create positive messages, including a quote by Booker T himself, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else.” – You can walk all the way around the Neiman Marcus building to find more than a dozen panels with these messages of love, and resilience. – And as of last night, there is a massive 48 foot by 600 foot mural that spells out Black Lives Matter at City Hall, created by @jdmooreportfolios. It’s hard to photograph from the ground so shoutout to @jeffamador for capturing it with his drone! (First photo above!) – The mural is currently on display but will only last until it next rains – the artists didn’t want the visual of someone cleaning it up because according to @centraltrack, the mural “is meant to reflect that the need to constantly insist our lives matter will not exist in the future.” – And the good news is rain is not forecasted at all the next 15 days, so when you have time, head over to Downtown and Deep Ellum. Walk around alone to take it all in or with friends to create dialogue alongside, and let’s turn these powerful images into great conversation starters!
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) June 10, 2020
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
BLACK LIVES MATTER street mural done! Thank you to everyone who helped us in this process. It was great to work with the @cityofrochesterny DES team and amazing volunteers that help to paint yesterday. A super shout out to @sherwinwilliams for the paint and supplies. pic.twitter.com/Q8z92DYXgy
— Shawn Dunwoody (@shawndunwoody) June 12, 2020
My little hometown of Montpelier, VT—a town of 7,500 that is 93% white—did this in front of the capitol building yesterday.
This isn’t the Black community’s problem. It’s up to all of us. pic.twitter.com/QAAvheDudo
— Alex Whitcomb (@AlexWhitcomb) June 14, 2020
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
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.
Video From Jared Hitchens with the Greater Topeka Partnership pic.twitter.com/K68S71Uskj
— Hannah Brandt (@hannahKSNT) June 8, 2020
As a 2nd Generation Native of Denver, Colorado so Proud to see my city cares about Black Lives! @reelectmuriel @MissAmberAshley @WePlanGifts @JPStrategiesCO @BlackGirlsHike @NAREBDenver #BlackLivesMatter #Denver #DenverProtest #Colorado pic.twitter.com/JHTaWFRbtA
— Portia Prescott (@PortiaColorado) June 12, 2020
ALBANY, NEW YORK
— Louis Finley (@LouisFinley) June 10, 2020
This article originally appeared in My Modern Met.