Yonkers Arts designed a Black Lives Matter Mural in Downtown Yonkers. The words “Black Lives Matter” were painted on South Broadway outside City Hall by local residents August 29-30th. The large multi-colored mural was unveiled Monday, August 31st.
“Being an African-American who’s fortunate to be the Director of an Arts Organization, I took this project personally,” Yonkers Arts Executive Director Ray Wilcox shared with Black Westchester. “The installation’s impact has proven to be a hot topic and has sparked the dialogue needed to be had here in Yonkers, especially knowing the history this city has with race and racism. We have a progressive Mayor in Mike Spano. We have a City Council built of diversity. Judges that look like my sister. And a community comprised of local organizations that are doing REAL work for change. This mural shows a city standing in solidarity in acknowledging our struggles. And I’m proud to be a part of that.”
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to developing the artistic community and impact through the arts in the city of Yonkers, NY. Yonkers Arts strategically created the mural campaign so that the organization wouldn’t benefit from tax-payer’s dollars and fundraised utilizing grassroots collaboration with a cohort of local community organizations; all who are creating impact for the betterment of the city. The collaboration also birthed the opportunity to form a community ‘action’ panel composed of these community leaders that will continue to engage with our elected officials on some of the glaring issues directly affecting the community.
“It’s moments like these that make me proud to be Mayor of a city that
promotes our diversity,” Mayor Mike Spano told Black Westchester. “A city filled with over 100 different ethnicities and over 60 spoken languages – spoke in one unifying voice. Yonkers is the symbol of America. We set a standard the rest of the nation ought to strive to achieve. Having Black Lives Matter painted before the steps of City Hall and in front of our Veterans Monument sends a powerful message. A message that all lives cannot matter until black lives matter. Our veterans fought to support these ideals, and we are here to protect them. Thank you to the Yonkers Arts organization, and over 65 volunteers who painted this powerful message.”
On June 5, 2020, during the George Floyd protests, the DC Public Works Department painted the words “Black Lives Matter” in 35-foot-tall (11 m) yellow capital letters on 16th Street NW on the north of Lafayette Square, part of President’s Park near the White House, with the assistance of the MuralsDC program of the DC Department of Public Works, with the DC flag accompanying the text. Multiple other cities across the United States, as well as in Canada, and United Kingdom, subsequently painted their own “Black Lives Matter” murals.
On June 9, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced plans to rename and paint in each of the five boroughs of New York City in honor of Black Lives Matter in consultation with city leaders, advocates and the City Council. He stated “It’s time to do something officially representing this city to recognize the power of the fundamental idea of Black Lives Matter, the idea that so much of American history has wrongly renounced, but now must be affirmed.”
Cities all across New York State including, Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Harlem (on side of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr, State Building), Nyack, Oswego, Rochester, Schenectady and Syracuse begin painting their own murals as well. Despite many cities renaming and painting streets with the words Black Lives Matter there wasn’t one to be found in Westchester
County. Until late August when Yonkers led the way and became the first of the 43 municipalities of Westchester to do so.
“I believe that the mural has already begun its mission,” Hector Santiago shared with Black Westchester. “Lots of conversations have started in the community revolving the term “Black Lives Matter,” People from all prospective have come to share but also listen. Many have agreed to disagree but still maintained respect & that is the goal. To create a space of safety , love, and unity in the community. I don’t think it solves all our problems but it has definitely opened peoples hearts, minds, and spirits to coming together for change”