PROVIDENCE — Organizers hoped to spark discourse about racial justice in America, but in doing so they’ve been met with discord about a street mural in Kennedy that proclaims “All Black Lives Matter.”
A local group of artists came up with the project and secured city permission to paint on the street and private funding to pay for it, said Rodney Davis, who described himself as co-facilitator of the art installation.
“Part of the objective of this mural project is awareness,” Davis told The Providence Journal on Friday. “It’s designed to start conversations.”
But not everyone approves of the mural and how it came about.
“It’s a total slap in the face,” Mark Fisher, who is with one of the two groups in the state that use the phrase Black Lives Matter in their names, told Channel 12, WPRI-TV.
“We want to work with everybody. We want to be inclusive. We want to work with every race, every creed, every ethnicity, especially our own,” Fisher, of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island told the TV station. “To have a Black Lives Matter mural slapped down in the middle of Kennedy Plaza, without us knowing anything about it, that goes against everything we are fighting for on the front lines.”
The Journal tried to contact Black Lives Matter Rhode Island for this story.
Davis said Black Lives Matter Rhode Island had been consulted about the project when it was conceived last fall, but didn’t stay involved.
“There was no intention of showing any disrespect,” Davis said, adding, “It’s not about a mural, it’s about our lives.”
The other Rhode Island group using the name, Black Lives Matter Rhode Island PAC, said it has no objection to the mural.
Doing something in a place as visible as Kennedy Plaza to spark conversations about racial justice is a good thing, Harrison Tuttle, that group’s executive director, told The Journal on Friday.
Tuttle said that there are plenty of opportunities to advance the cause for anyone who felt left out of the mural project.
The project, as planned last fall, was to have been on Cranston Street, Davis said, but the surface of that street was not smooth enough. As it took more time to realize the project than originally anticipated, the location was switched to the more visible Kennedy Plaza.
The phrase “all Black lives matter” was chosen to emphasize a more inclusive group, Davis said. “There are millions of people who aren’t African American who are Black.”
He listed indigenous peoples and those from the Caribbean among that larger community.
And, Davis said, parts of the mural will be painted in the rainbow colors associated with the LGBTQ+ community, who are frequently the most attacked members of the Black community.
“There’s a lot of people who this mural speaks to,” said Davis.
(Davis, a volunteer with Rhode Island Pride, is leading the effort to organize a PrideFest celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and its Illuminated Night Parade. Those observances, typically held in June, have been postponed this year until the fall.)
The mural is being paid for by the PVD Fest city arts festival, College Unbound and Rhode Island School of Design. The city’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism is helping with the installation.
Credit: Source link