Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the City of Bloomington. Bloom has republished it here with edits for style and clarity.
The City of Bloomington’s second Black Lives Matter street mural was approved April 13 by the Board of Public Works for installation on the north side of the downtown Square. The first mural was installed next to the Banneker Center last fall. The second mural will be painted on West Sixth Street between North College and North Walnut on Saturday, April 17, weather permitting (with a rain date scheduled for Saturday, May 1). The block will be closed to traffic and its parking spaces unavailable on the day of installation from 6 a.m.–8 p.m., while the sidewalks will remain open. Local businesses have been notified of the closure.
“The City is proud to welcome these murals to our public art landscape,” says Mayor John Hamilton. “Putting the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ at the heart of our downtown matches up with values at the heart of this community: equity, inclusion, and justice. The words on the street will serve as a constant reminder to combat the persistence of racism and discrimination in Bloomington and beyond.”
Local Black artists Christina Elem and Raheem Elmore will lead volunteers in the painting of a 270-foot street mural, featuring the words “Black Lives Matter” in green, red, yellow, and black. Approximately 60 volunteers from the community will work in 45-minute shifts to paint the mural throughout the day. All participants must wear masks and will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to taking part. Paint brushes and other items will be sanitized after each shift and participants will be assigned spaces to work to ensure proper distancing. In keeping with the gathering size limit waiver granted by the Monroe County Health Department, event organizers must limit participation to volunteers who register in advance at the Banneker Community Center website or the Banneker Community Center Facebook page and will not be able to accommodate walk-up volunteers.
Proposed by the Banneker Community Center Advisory Council (BCCAC), a resident-led board that reports to the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, installation of two Black Lives Matter street murals was approved by the Board of Parks Commissioners, Bloomington Arts Commission, and City Council via Resolution 20-16, and the Board of Public Works. Led by Elem and Elmore, volunteers painted the first mural on the block of North Elm Street between West 7th and West 8th Streets on October 24, 2020. The mural was dedicated in an online ceremony held on November 13, which may be viewed here. Funding for the project came from unused municipal dollars originally budgeted and earmarked for the Black y Brown Arts Festival, which was cancelled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What a time for such an installation,” says BCCAC President Nichelle Whitney. “When we started this journey, we were mourning the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Now, we watch anxiously as the [Derek] Chauvin trial is underway; and as if this isn’t enough, we are now grieving the loss of Daunte Wright. Coming together as a community to paint this mural is a powerful action that will also bring a bit of the consolation that we all need.”