Black Lives Matter street painting complete at Birmingham Railroad Park

Black Lives Matter street painting complete at Birmingham Railroad Park
The BLACK LIVES MATTER street mural came together in less than two days. (Jay Parker / Alabama NewsCenter)

Shawn Fitzwater was concerned that the current calls for social justice for African Americans might die down, like has happened after resurgences like the one we’re currently seeing in Alabama and across the country.

The owner of Fitz Hand Painted Signs saw a street painted with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in Washington, D.C. earlier this month and thought Birmingham should do the same. Such a painting, he thought, would ensure the focus doesn’t fade too soon.

“I think the change that we’re experiencing now in our world and our nation is very important,” Fitzwater told Alabama NewsCenter. “It’s very important not to forget what’s going on – not just glaze over it like it seems we’ve done for centuries, right?”

BLACK LIVES MATTER street painting completed at Birmingham Railroad Park from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Fitzwater reached out to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin with the idea and was told they would look into it. Then, on Tuesday, the mayor’s office asked Fitzwater if he could get the painting done in front of Birmingham Railroad Park before the Juneteenth celebration Friday. It turns out that Cara McClure, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Birmingham, had also proposed the Juneteenth street painting idea to the mayor and suggested Railroad Park as the location.

Fitzwater and McClure worked together on the project.

Fitzwater, a founding member of the BHM Artist Collective, reached out to his artist friends. McClure and Black Lives Matter Birmingham organized volunteers to help and is working with I Believe In Birmingham on fundraising to pay for the associated costs.. Birmingham Department of Transportation sent crews and materials.

The public also came out to volunteer, with parents of all races bringing their children to help. Work started Wednesday morning and the painting was completed this afternoon in less than two days. BLACK LIVES MATTER now stands out in bright, yellow letters in front of Railroad Park on First Avenue South between 16th and 17th streets.

“I am thankful Black Lives Matter Birmingham, the mural artists and community joined together for this positive message,” Woodfin said. “The spirit of solidarity during the street painting over the last two days has been powerful.”

Fitzwater said other sites considered included the Birmingham Civil Rights District and Linn Park but the city decided that Railroad Park was “the perfect spot.” The park has come to symbolize the good that can happen when the city works together for a common cause.

While paint isn’t permanent, Fitzwater hopes the sentiment will be.

“With Birmingham’s history … the civil rights movement and everything, I think it’s very important that we show our support and that we’re recognizing that,” he said.

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