‘Black Lives Do Matter’ and ‘End Racism Now,’ amended request for art installation goes back to City Council

‘Black Lives Do Matter’ and ‘End Racism Now,’ amended request for art installation goes back to City Council
Wilmington City Council members at odds over proposed Black Lives Matter mural

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After a heated City Council meeting in Wilmington last month, community activists are once again requesting Wilmington leaders allow an art installation in public space --- this time --- with an amended message.

The original request asked city leaders to allow the installation of a three-dimensional metal art piece that would have read ‘Black Lives Matter.’

However, Councilman Charlie Rivenbark declared the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ as racist, and refused to vote in favor of the request. After further discussion, the City Council agreed to table the proposal in July in order to answer additional questions about the process and the art itself.

Despite Rivenbark’s call for the message to read ‘All Lives Matter,’ the new request has amended the message to read ‘Black Lives Do Matter’ along with an end block that will read ‘End Racism Now,’ according to the newly proposed resolution.

Other cities across the state and country have allowed activists to paint anti-racism messages typically on streets themselves, which was what was initially proposed for Wilmington as well. After working with city staff, activists came up with the idea to create an art installation that would be installed near the 1898 and visible by drivers heading East on Martin Luther King Parkway.

“In cooperation with the City, the group modified its proposal (Attachment 1), and now desires to erect and donate to the City for one (1) year, the use and display of a monument and art installation, approximately 4-foot wide by 8-foot tall cut out letters displaying artistic images in the open space spelling out ‘BLACK LIVES DO MATTER’ with an ending block that states ‘END RACISM NOW’. The area identified provides high visibility, connectivity to the Freedom Walk, 1898 Memorial Park and the Jervay Memorial Park garden. The area requested for the monument will be inside the fence line of the Jervay Memorial Park garden and be most visible by motorists traveling east on MLK Parkway,” according to the agenda item.

Each letter will be decorated by local artists and community volunteers to depict local African American history, according to the proposal to the city.

If the plan is to move forward, City Council will have to approve a resolution to allow for the installation of the message, it would be considered a pilot program and would be installed for one year. The resolution would also require city staff to monitor the program to “uncover lessons learned and to guide the development of a policy proposal for such future offers and requests.”

City staff is recommending the approval of the resolution which will permit the installation for one year, all expenses for the project will be paid for by the group requesting the installation.

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