CHICAGO’S FIRST ‘BLACK LIVES MAT­TER’ STREET MU­RAL UN­VEILED IN SOUTH SHORE

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY EVAN F. MOORE, STAFF RE­PORTER emoore@sun­times.com | @evanFMoore

South Shore res­i­dents and other Chicagoans came to­gether over the week­end to paint the city’s first “Black Lives Mat­ter” street mu­ral on one of the South Side neigh­bor­hood’s main drags.

The street mu­ral — on Jef­fery Boule­vard be­tween 70th and 71st streets — is an adap­ta­tion of the city’s flag with the words “Black Lives Mat­ter” writ­ten in blue let­ters and red stars be­tween each word.

Roughly 250 peo­ple helped paint the mu­ral over sev­eral hours Satur­day at the event or­ga­nized by com­mu­nity ac­tivist Wil­liam Cal­loway and the com­mu­nity group South Shore Works, with artist Quentin Crock­ett over­see­ing the paint­ing. South Shore has a his­tory of ac­tivism and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, which made the neigh­bor­hood an ideal spot for the street art, par­tic­i­pants said.

“Jef­fery Boule­vard is the main artery in South Shore. We want the com­mu­nity to know that they mat­ter to us,” said Cal­loway, a for­mer al­der­manic can­di­date. “It mat­tered to us to put it here in­stead of Stony [Is­land Av­enue] or in front of Trump Tower down­town or a po­lice sta­tion. We want to up­lift our com­mu­nity. There’s heal­ing in art, and I wanted to bring that heal­ing to my com­mu­nity.

“We’ve seen peo­ple come to­gether and unite around the con­cept of Black Lives Mat­ter. In some ways, it was ther­a­peu­tic for so many of us to be able to gather with our fam­ily, friends, and neigh­bors to paint. For some, it was the first so­cial gath­er­ing they’ve done since the pan­demic.”

Black Lives Mat­ter street mu­rals have been painted in other cities, in­clud­ing New York, Bos­ton, Washington, D.C., and Oak­land fol­low­ing protests in the wake of the po­lice killings of Ge­orge Floyd in Min­neapo­lis, Bre­onna Tay­lor in Louisville and Rayshard Brooks in At­lanta.

Not ev­ery­one has wel­comed the demon­stra­tions and other ex­pres­sions con­demn­ing po­lice bru­tal­ity. This month, a Black Lives Mat­ter street mu­ral cre­ated in Oak Park was de­faced and al­tered to read “All Lives Mat­ter.” The 100-foot-long mu­ral was quickly power-washed, with the “Black” let­ters largely re­stored to their orig­i­nal form.

ALE­JAN­DRO REYES/PRO­VIDED PHOTO

Chicago’s first “Black Lives Mat­ter” street mu­ral, seen here from a drone fly­ing over Jef­fery Boule­vard in South Shore, plays off the im­age of the city’s flag.

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