More than a hundred people joined in painting a very colorful and symbolic 250-foot long Black Lives Matter street mural in Mamaroneck on Saturday.
The street art was painted on Van Ranst Place bordering Columbus Park off Mamaroneck Avenue. Under grey skies, neighbors of all ages took brush in hand to paint a bit of each of the letters to read Black Lives Matter.
“Hopefully (this mural) will make this make some changes here in our community and let people know that we can work together. That’s most important to me,” says Lavet Jackson, the lifelong Mamaroneck resident whose idea it was for the community to paint a Black Lives Matter street mural in the village.
Many drew upon their own creativity to further illustrate their support of the movement which counters racism and acts of violence. Among the symbols were colorful illustrations of flowers, a clenched fist, and phrases about equal justice. A local artist, who goes by the name of Mouse Mosley, designed depictions representing talents and achievements of those in the community such as musicians, actors, filmmakers, scientists, academics and more.
The painting of such murals began in several cites shortly after the death of George Floyd last summer and the subsequent protests that gripped the nation. The first Black Lives Matter mural was painted in June on a street in Washington near the White House. Locally, the most famous BLM mural is on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue directly in front of Trump Tower.
To adhere to the Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, the number of volunteers were limited to particular time slots and were required to wear masks.
Jackson says many Mamaroneck residents would be surprised that racism occurs Mamaroneck. “Unfortunately Mamaroneck has hidden things and try to portray that everything is good and it’s time that people know that it’s not and the only way to solve its problems is to bring them forth and work on them together and that for me is what is most important about this. Recognize there are issues and work on them to make things change.”
Leaders of the neighborhood group organizing the event say that several local community groups and businesses have donated money to cover all costs. The Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved the mural last month after hearing from a large number of residents in support of the plan. A much smaller number of residents voiced disapproval. Several of them raised objections and worried that the BLM display might attract violence by people from outside the village.
Jackson and her cousin Jarrett Winchester came up with the concept after Covid-19 forced cancellation of a yearly block party that raised money for the needy living in the Washingtonville neighborhood in Mamaroneck. Winchester says he led the move for the BLM street scape in hopes of sparking positive conversation about race and social justice. One such conversation happened before the first brush stroke has been painted.
“One of the residents who was against the original project’s location called me up and said ‘Listen, I will supply pizza for you guys.’ That happened through dialog and listening to his concerns. Communication is key,” Winchester says.
“It’s an important movement. It’s not fair that people get discriminated against based on the color of their skin,” said Chloe, a young teen who became teary with emotion as she talked about her reason for being there. “It’s very powerful. I just want to show my support for the community.”
Debra Quintana has been reporting for The Loop for several years. After living in Larchmont for 20 years she and her husband moved to Mamaroneck 3 years ago. Debra was a television news reporter in Texas, Florida, Colorado before moving to New York where she worked at WPIX-TV and WCBS-TV. She currently serves as the manager of The Golden Shoestring in Larchmont.