‘Black Lives Matter’ painted in downtown Decatur

Community members, artists and city employees painted “Black Lives Matter” in front of Decatur High School on North McDonough Street between Trinity Place and Howard Avenue Aug. 22.

Decatur resident Tiffany Tesfamichael brought the idea to city officials who approved the project and selected three artists to design one word each.

City officials said volunteer time slots were created to control social distancing among the more than 500 volunteers who registered from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., in addition to several walk-up volunteers.

“This was a community request and I kind of served as a project manager, if you will,” said City Commissioner Lesa Mayer. “The community response was greater than I could have ever anticipated. Once the city of Decatur posted on their Facebook page about volunteer slots, they were filled within 12 hours—510 spots.”

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Artist Petie Parker said he designed the word “matter” to look a ballot box, to “send a message to say voting matters.”

“I’m honored that I was selected to be a part of this mural,” said Parker. “The fact it’s a Black Lives Matter mural, I feel even honored I’m here. I’ve almost come to tears because the community came out and helped in this fashion.”

Sharanda (S.A.W) Wilburn designed “Black” and George F. Baker III, also known as GFB3, designed “lives.”

Kris Webb, a Saturday morning volunteer, said she believes it’s important to have public statements such as the mural in front of Decatur High School.

“Sometimes people will say it’s just a symbol, but it symbolizes an intentionally confrontational statement about our priorities,” said Webb. “It doesn’t get to the root issue; however, I think it’s important to have public statements about where we stand.”

Mayer said Decatur Special Events Coordinator Jackie Moore was an integral part of planning the mural. According to Mayer, Moore coordinated the city groups involved to ensure the volunteers could stay safe and have proper PPE and sanitation and handwashing stations in place.

City officials said they limited the number of volunteers per shift and put strict safety protocols in place, including requirements for physical distancing of non-household members, mask use and use of disinfecting supplies. “I think it’s refreshing to see such an obvious statement,” said Webb. “I think it’s great for the high school kids to be coming to school with this message. There’s a lot of other things that need to happen, but this is a step in the right direction.”


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