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'See us for who we are!' New 'Black Lives Matter' mural coming to downtown Greensboro

Sixteen Greensboro artists will each paint a letter of the Black Lives Matter street mural to express their feelings during this movement

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Another mural is being painted in downtown Greensboro.  It is the latest in a series of art projects promoting racial equality. 

The Black Lives Matter street mural will be painted on Elm Street between February One and Washington Street.  Mural organizer and project leader Jason L. Keith says the location near the International Civil Rights Center and Museum is intentional.

"We wanted to put it there. We could have applied to put it anywhere else in the city but we wanted to put it at the heart of the city," said Keith.  "There's been a lot of history in downtown Greensboro especially on that street. That's the old Woolworths building and so through recognizing what the Civil Rights Museum stands for, you understand the fight that the Black community has endured for years," said Keith.

Sixteen Greensboro artists, representing different ethnic groups and backgrounds will each paint a letter to express their emotions about racial equality and justice.

Credit: Jason L. Keith
Sixteen Greensboro artists will each paint a letter of the Black Lives Matter street mural on Elm Street near the International Civil Rights Center and Museum

Artist Rasheeda Shankle will work with the artists to bring this artistic expression of their understanding of the movement to life.  

"Times are changing and it is now a crime to be silent," said Shankle.  "The city is giving us the opportunity to voice our opinions. It's like now they want to know how we feel about what's going on within the community.  This has been going on for over 450 years and we're still protesting, marching doing the same things for freedom, social justice work equality."

Keith who is also a criminal defense attorney says, the mural will continue important conversations going on in households and among community leaders as calls for change increase across the country.

"Black Lives Matter at this time signifies a community that is expressing themselves and trying to say, see us," said Keith.  "See us for who we are.  We're here, we mean more than the color of our skin.  We mean more and we stand for more."

Both Shankle and Keith plan to preserve this mural so it will have a long-lasting effect on the community and a place in the city's history.

"Placed in front of the Civil Rights Museum, we expect and we hope that at some point in time, that it will actually be in the Civil Rights Museum to show the growth, to show the history of the struggle that Greensboro has endured, to get to a place of quality for all," said Keith.

The City of Greensboro will close portions of Elm Street and February One Place starting Friday, June 26 at 6 p.m. so the artists have full access to the street without obstacles.  It will reopen Monday, June 29th at 7 a.m.

The community is invited to watch the artists paint Saturday, June 27th at 11 a.m. People are encouraged to wear a mask and social distance following the governor's Phase 2 executive order.  The county's Black Lawyers Association will also be handing out 1,000 free masks.

The Black Lives Matter street mural is the second approved under the city of Greensboro's new Street Mural Program.  The first is located on Davie Street and says, 'One Love.'

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