Black Lives Matter street mural comes to Nashville

Tybre Faw, 12-years old, delivers the poem he did for John Lewis’ eulogy in front of a crowd Saturday, October 17, for the BLM mural celebration.

About 75 people gathered on Woodland Street in celebration of a Black Lives Matter mural that’s been in the works since June on October 17. The piece, painted by local volunteers and artists, was privately funded by John Smith, Grayce Gadson, Muhammad Gerr and Brenda Ross.

The piece isn’t the first of its kind. Similar murals have been painted in big cities like New York, Baltimore and D.C. with the same yellow lettering.

It’s no secret that Tennessee has a history of racism. The KKK was created in Pulaski, Tennessee, only an hour away, and we still see some of the remnants from that time. That’s why key organizer John Smith thought it was overdue for Nashville to have one.

“Nashville really needs this,” said Smith, “to show them Black lives matter.” The 350 foot long mural features artwork to include and highlight  the African, LGBT and music communities of Nashville together.

Main artist, Thaxton Waters, said in an earlier article: “We’re just trying to open up the conversation.” News of the mural surfaced on social media and the Black community did not hold back their views. A lot of people questioned if the mural would only be a symbol to be forgotten and disrespected. Smith said his next steps are to look into working with the Community Oversight Board (COB) to set up a plan of action. “We want to see some changes concerning how police treat people in their city.”

Some community members were also not happy about the location. Many people felt like the mural should have been painted in North Nashville, rich with Black history and culture. Smith said choosing a location for the mural wasn’t easy considering multiple people were involved. Smith said he wanted the location “where the money is” so that people driving into downtown, whether it’s for work or a night out, will most likely see it. He also emphasized the importance of the location’s proximity to the Juvenile Detention Center. Initially, the organizers wanted the mural beside City Hall but were denied by the Metro Arts Commission. They eventually all agreed and were approved to paint it in the current Woodland Street location.

Those opposed to the location might have been justified in their concerns because not even a full day after the mural was done, it was allegedly vandalised with tire marks.

Share your view on the mural! Do you believe this BLM mural will do more good or harm in the city? I want to hear from you on my Instagram, @jomillathejournalist.

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