City officials unveiled the Black Lives Matter mural on Colonial Avenue during a ceremony in front of City Hall on Saturday morning.
Local artist Michael Little’s design was picked by citizens for the mural as part of the city’s Black Lives Matter Street Artwork Project.
Ulysses Edwards and Richard Delain provided major assistance in painting the BLM mural. Colonial Avenue had been closed while the mural was being painted but was reopened at noon on Saturday.
The mural consists of the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in yellow and it stretches around 700 feet from City Hall down to the Pasquotank County Library.
City Council authorized the mural in the wake of the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. by Pasquotank sheriff’s deputies on April 21.
“This is being done across the nation,” said Mayor Bettie Parker of the city having a BLM mural. “What it does is it represents the disproportionate number of Black men and women who have been killed by law enforcement across the nation. Elizabeth City has not been exempt from such a happening.”
Fourth Ward Councilor Darius Horton led the project’s effort and lauded the bright design of the mural.
“They spent long hours out here and took a vision and made it a reality,” Horton said. “How awesome is it that our small town sends a national message that Black lives do matter. Yes, all lives matter. But until Black lives matter, we can’t say all lives matter.”
Edwards and Delain described the city’s mural as a milestone in the BLM movement in the community. Little was unable to attend the unveiling ceremony.
“It’s a step forward and it was an honor to put this hard work in for our community and get it done,” Edwards said. “The purpose is bigger than anyone that was involved.”
Delain said he was “blessed” to be part of the project. Besides rain and hot weather, Delain and Edwards said they had to repair damage done to the mural by vandals. They said they were also threatened at one point during the project.
“We didn’t let anything stop us, we didn’t let anything get in our way,” Delain said. “We held our composure.’’
City Manager Monte Freeman thanked citizens who he said stopped by daily while the mural was being painted to offer words of encouragement, offer food and drinks and even volunteer to help with the mural project.
“We are humbled by the outpouring of support from local community and business leaders,” Freeman said. “It was an amazing experience to watch the artists use a simple paint brush to create artwork that pays homage to the lives and contributions of African American people.”
The artists received no compensation for painting the mural but the city paid for the paint and other supplies. Edwards and Delain said a few final details of the mural will be added in the coming days.
More than 1,000 people cast votes to pick the winning artist’s design. Freeman said the voting was close among the four competing designs but that Little, 27, won by a comfortable margin.
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