Breaking: “Black Lives Matter” street mural coming to 1st Avenue South by Railroad Park

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Soon, a massive Black Lives Matter mural will adorn the streets of Birmingham. Photo via Khalid Naji-Allah/Executive Office of the Mayor via AP

Inspired by the work of artists in Washington, D.C., the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Birmingham Cara McClure and local artists are planning a massive “Black Lives Matter” street mural to go beside Railroad Park on 1st Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets. And what’s more, McClure and the artists aim to complete the mural by this Saturday. Here is what we know so far.

Local artists are on a roll

The group of artists are wrapping up a previous project across the street from The Pizitz. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Cara McClure of Black Lives Matter Birmingham had been texting with Mayor Woodfin for a few weeks about painting a giant mural on the streets of Birmingham. Separately, local artist Shawn Fitzwater of Fitz Hand Painted Signs reached out to the Office of Public Information at the Mayor’s Office to inquire about painting a giant mural on the streets of Birmingham.

“I thought it would be a good thing for our city to celebrate Juneteenth by painting Black Lives Matter on the street, so I asked Mayor Woodfin. He said, ‘Where would you want it?’ and I said ‘Woah, he’s open!'”

Cara McClure, Black Lives Matter Birmingham

After some back and forth about possible locations, McClure suggested Railroad Park as the site. “We need this mural to do the work of encouraging people to have the hard conversations. That way we can have a future that’s better for everybody,” said McClure.

Meanwhile, the Office of Public Information and the Transportation Department contacted Shawn Fitzwater about his interest in the project and to find out how they could be involved. After the Office of Public Information talked to the Mayor about both groups, the Mayor’s Office decided to combine the two projects. Also working on this effort is Joseph Casper Baker III of the Facebook group I Believe in Birmingham. The group reached out to Dave Barnhart of White Clergy for Black Lives to see if they would be willing to provide fundraising support. They agreed.

Although Cara and Shawn didn’t know each other, their energy and interests are aligned.

Here’s what Shawn Fitzwater wrote in the “Bham Muralist Collaborative” group on Facebook:

On June 5th I saw an article where the people of DC had painted “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in the streets. Several friends were sending me the same article and saying “we need to do this!”. I thought it was cool but figured there no way we could get this passed with all the loopholes we had to jump through and get our wall approved, 😄. 

However, I always live by “it never hurts to ask” 🤷‍♂️….so I did. I sent the mayors office a brief email with that article attached simply asking “Wouldnt this be cool in Bham?”.

Well, a couple of weeks later I get a phone call from none other than the mayors office (yesterday actually), I had honestly forgotten all about it so it sort of caught me off guard. They asked me all sorts of questions and then said they’d call me back.

Long story short….this project has been green lighted by the mayors office!

When will the project be done?

The new “Black Lives Matter” mural will go on the street across from Railroad Park, on 1st Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets. Photo via Shawn Fitzwater on Facebook

Surprisingly, the mural will go up a lot quicker than you think. According to Shawn, the Birmingham Department of Transportation wants the mural completed before Saturday, June 20, in time for the annual recognition of Juneteenth on June 19th.

To facilitate the project, a portion of 1st Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets will be blocked between Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon. Railroad Park remains closed and is only open for exercise.

In order to meet that deadline, Shawn is reaching out to the artists he previously worked with on a collaborative mural downtown. Starting tomorrow, June 17, they will be focused on bringing a new, giant street mural to Birmingham. And we can’t wait to see it finished.

Stay tuned as Bham Now will be following this project closely.

Excited to see the new mural by Railroad Park? Let us know—tag @bhamnow on social media!

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Nathan Watson
Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.
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