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Chicago’s first ‘Black Lives Matter’ street mural goes up in South Shore

The street mural, with the words “Black Lives Matter” in blue letters and red stars between each word, is an adaptation of the city’s flag.

South Shore residents and other Chicagoans came together over the weekend to paint the city’s first “Black Lives Matter” street mural on one of the South Side neighborhood’s main drags.

The street mural — on Jeffery Boulevard between 70th and 71st streets — is an adaptation of the city’s flag with the words “Black Lives Matter” written in blue letters and red stars between each word.

Roughly 250 people helped paint the mural over several hours Saturday at the event organized by community activist William Calloway and the community group South Shore Works, with artist Quentin Crockett overseeing the painting. South Shore has a history of activism and community engagement, which made the neighborhood an ideal spot for the street art, participants said.

“Jeffery Boulevard is the main artery in South Shore. We want the community to know that they matter to us,” said Calloway, a former aldermanic candidate. “It mattered to us to put it here instead of Stony [Island Avenue] or in front of Trump Tower downtown or a police station. We want to uplift our community. There’s healing in art, and I wanted to bring that healing to my community.

Volunteers began painting the block-long “Black Lives Matter” mural at 5 a.m. on Saturday in South Shore. The job took several hours.
Alejandro Reyes/Provided photo

“We’ve seen people come together and unite around the concept of Black Lives Matter. In some ways, it was therapeutic for so many of us to be able to gather with our family, friends, and neighbors to paint. For some, it was the first social gathering they’ve done since the pandemic.”

Black Lives Matter street murals have also been painted in other cities, including New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., and Oakland following protests in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.

Chicago’s first “Black Lives Matter” street mural, seen here from a drone flying over Jeffery Boulevard in South Shore, plays off the image of the city’s flag.
Alejandro Reyes/Provided photo

Not everyone has welcomed the demonstrations and other expressions condemning police brutality. Earlier this month, a Black Lives Matter street mural created in Oak Park was defaced and altered to read “All Lives Matter.” The 100-foot-long mural was quickly power-washed, with the “Black” letters largely restored to their original form.