Art has always been the voice of great revolutions and what is currently happening in the US with the Black Lives Matter murals is no exception. Following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, street art pieces started to appear across the country to amplify protests against police brutality and persisting racial inequalities.

It all started on June 5th when Washington DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a huge Black Lives Matter slogan painted in bold yellow letters, right on the site where Trump’s officials removed peaceful protesters a few days earlier. To further emphasize her position, she even renamed the area “Black Lives Matter Plaza”… surely a loud and clear message to Mr. President!

I think Bowser made a clever move and started something really powerful. At the end of the day, using art and creativity to express opinions truly makes our voices stronger and louder. Just consider that the very first Black Lives Matter mural in Washington D.C. is now visible from space thanks to Google Maps!

Since then, similar murals appeared in many other US cities to support the nationwide anti-racism protest. Some places, like Albany and San Francisco, replicated the same Black Lives Matter slogan, while others got a bit more creative. In Charlotte and Seattle, for example, each letter of the mural features a different design, while the Brooklyn slogan embeds the names of those who died from police violence in the States.

Local artists and residents realized their street art pieces with the blessing of local administrations, placing them in strategic locations close to City Halls or in key cultural hubs. In Los Angeles, for example, a colorful All Black Lives Matter slogan popped up in the heart of the country’s film and entertainment heritage, between the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Anyway not just US artists joined the #BlacklivesMatter protest, from all around the world people joined, and also Bansky shared a message about it and an artwork.

At first, I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It's not their problem. It's mine. People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. This faulty system is making their life misery, but it's not their job to fix it. They can't - no- one will let them in the apartment upstairs. This is a white problem. And if white people don't fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.

Bansky
 
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Besides its strong message, what struck me most of this Black Lives Matter project is that it demonstrates once again the great power of art. These murals somehow offer a way to channel anger and bring people together, no matter their cultural and ethnic differences, as recently seen in Oakland. The city’s 15th Street hosted a big community party for people to work together on the mural and share important messages with paint.

Not everyone applauded Bowser’s initiative, though. The DC chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement labeled her idea a “performative distraction”, demanding to defund police and invest in the community instead. This may be partly true, but let’s not forget that as much as street art alone is not enough to bring change, it certainly is a powerful way to address politically touchy issues and amplify concerns.

 

The Black Lives Matter movement itself, which was established in 2013 following the police shooting of 17-year-old black American Trayvon Martin, heavily relies on social media and art to speak out against racial injustice. Recent protest artworks include United We Stand by Anthony Medrano in Chicago, the young lady making a wish by Robbie Lee Harris in Tucson, and the kneeled child by Rodney Easterwood and his daughter Anita in Kansas City.