Borough officials, volunteer leaders, and community residents gathered at the Highland Park Borough Hall on Sunday morning, June 21, to celebrate Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, with the unveiling of a Black Lives Matter street art mural.
The big and bold yellow letters spelling out Black Lives Matter on South Fifth Avenue in front of The Borough Hall and the Fire House are meant to be a reminder to all residents that during slavery obviously, but even during the 157 years after the emancipation of slaves, blacks have experienced and still are experiencing today severe challenges of ingrained prejudice that has demeaned, devalued and destroyed black lives. In addition, the art also will serve as an inspiration for the community to make constructive structural changes to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for all regardless of the color of one’s skin.
According to a Washington Post analysis black Americans are disproportionately affected by police violence across the United States. The Highland Park mural response came after weeks of massive protests across the country against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Borough’s human relations commission, arts commission, and arts collective came up with the street mural idea, with the police department, councilmembers, and the mayor herself all supportive of the artwork, Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler said. A group of people from the commissions chalked out the outline of the letters on June 16th and painted them on June 17th. The department of public works supplied the yellow paint, and also helped paint the letters.
Harry and Lily Solomon contributed to this story.