Black Lives Matter mural draws mixed reactions

Tallahassee’s new Black Lives Matter mural. Photo by Stephan Symonette

The city of Tallahassee has a new attraction — and it’s generating a lot of buzz. Last week,a Black Lives Mattermural was painted on the pavement at the intersection of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue. It is an intersection between two cultures, FAMU and FSU.

The mural was installed in the midst of increased protests and awareness of the racial and social injustices happening across the nation.

The mural was requested by local residents and city officials. The city approved the artwork and its location.

It was inspired by seeing other cities creating their own Black Lives Matter art.  Washington D.C. and New York City have also recently painted Black Lives Matter on roads.

”We did not want to be on the wrong side of history and we did not want to be left behind,”  Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Coxsaid in a release.

 Simone Sadler, a FAMU student, regards the mural as a token gesture.“I wasn’t surprised because the country doesn’t care about Black people or their well being. It was like putting a band-aid on a gun wound.  It won’t bring any more awareness that hasn’t already been notified. The city just feels like they had to do or say something. So, ‘Here we give you a sign saying your life matters but we aren’t going to use our power to do anything,’” Sadler said.

David Robinson, a FAMU alum, hopes for more. “My initial thoughts were kind of mixed at first. While I can see the good in bringing awareness to issues plaguing the Black community, especially on the south side of Tally, I hope more effective change comes about. If this mural is strictly performative, it is not needed nor wanted,” he said.

FAMU student Qadaffi Abdur-Rasheed believes the mural is ineffective. “Black Lives Matter, in my opinion, is an organization hell-bent on exploiting the emotive distress of the African American people.  My initial thoughts were utter disgust; moreover, I am appalled at the symbolism in driving over the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a quotidian basis. Black Lives Matter is symbolic of the dark side behind the American dream as you have to be asleep to believe it,” he said.

Jordan Stokey,an FSU student, is also not impressed.

“I thought it was pretty absurd really since at no point at any of the protests I’ve been to have people of color been like,You know what: We need a mural that says Black Lives Matter for people to drive over.The mural just seems like a PR stunt and a really bad one since it was just done by what looked to be a road crew and as far as I know no black artists were involved at all,” he said.

Within a week the mural has been damaged. There have been tire marks scuffed on the artwork. While the Black Lives Matter mural was placed on Gaines Street with the idea of bringing awareness to the ongoing issues with racism and police brutality, some people in the community are demanding more substantial change.