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‘I Was Speechless’: Three Black Artists In Georgia Design Black Lives Matter Street Mural

A brightly colored Black Lives Matter mural now covers a portion of Decatur’s North McDonough Street, thanks to three talented artists and over 500 community volunteers.

Street murals started popping up all over the world after weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd. The first such mural showed up in Washington, D.C., near the White House, followed by other cities to include San Francisco,  Seattle, New York, Oakland, and Tulsa.

The 16 stenciled letters in Decatur, Georgia, paid for by the city and spearheaded by commissioner Lesa Mayer, are located near North Howard Avenue in front of Decatur High School.

One weekend in August, the roadway was blocked off as people came out throughout the day in shifts to color in the public art installation.

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett says the city pulled $16,000 from its anti-racism fund of $50,000 for the project, which was approved in July.

“We’ve seen the Black Lives Matter paintings in other cities and felt like this was an opportunity for Decatur to do something that would have the Decatur stamp on it and that would also involve Black artists and give them an opportunity to express themselves,” Garrett said.

Three Black creators — Sharanda Wilburn, Petie Parker and George F. Baker III — were selected to each design one word. 

Wilburn, an Atlanta native, said she was honored to get the call.

“I was speechless. This is the biggest mural ever that I’ve done. I didn’t know what to expect at first, but if it wasn’t for the community, this project probably wouldn’t have gotten done as fast. It got done really quickly,” Wilburn said.

She dedicated “Black” to several African-American women and men, including Oscar Grant, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, all Black men killed during police-involved shootings. 

“In the B, I used a lot of traffic symbols and traffic signs to represent Sandra Bland; she got pulled over for like a traffic ticket,” Wilburn said. “And the L, I did Skittles to represent Trayvon Martin.”

Muralist and painter Petie Parker used his word of “Matter” to convey a meaningful message to passersby during election season. 

“Voting is the best way to initiate change; voting matters,” Parker said. “It starts with educating kids, and the fact that we’re doing this in front of a school, I think it made perfect sense.”

City officials hope the temporary mural will last for up to six months.

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