AUSTIN (KXAN) — “Black Austin Matters.”
Those are the words being painted in bright yellow Tuesday morning on Congress Avenue between Sixth and Ninth streets downtown. The slogan will remain on the street for the next six months, depending on weather conditions, and will be re-evaluated at that time to determine if the installation should continue.
“This is going to be here for awhile, and though you might feel fire for a movement, this is not going to end anytime soon,” Gabi Pritchard with the Austin Justice Coalition said.
The Austin Transportation Department started on the message bright and early, and expects Congress Avenue to be closed through Sunday.
“Congress Avenue is a canvas of our city,” the Transportation Department’s tweet said. “From marathons to marches, stories are made here. Some don’t have the chance to tell their stories, so this morning we have them the canvas.”
Capitol View Arts and the Austin Justice Coalition brought forth the idea to paint the street, as well as another mural on 11th Street between Waller and Lydia. Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Spencer Cronk then approved the project. The Transportation Department says permit fees were waived for the mural.
“I’m hoping it launches people into asking what they need to do, what they have to do, in order for this movement to move forward,” Pritchard said.
The Transportation Department announced the closure of the street on its Twitter account at 5 a.m.
The paint used is the same kind typically used on roads, but without the reflective coating, the Transportation Department said. About 70 people volunteered and registered to help paint.
The Transportation Department estimated it would cost the department $5,943.12 for paint, materials and traffic control.
The slogan is one of several art projects that have popped up in Austin following the death of George Floyd. The new murals include one near Longhorn Dam and another on East 4th St. near I-35.
The Ghisallo Cycling Initiative, an area non-profit that promotes bike safety, has partnered with artist JJ Muzacz and The Mosaic Workshop to produce four mosaics of female civil rights leaders, including Austinite Barbara Jordan. The mosaics will look similar to one of George Floyd located at 98 Robert T Martinez Junior Street. You can learn more about the fundraiser here.
“There are a lot of organizations here in Austin doing the work that can help you find the lane you want to swim in when it comes to social justice,” Pritchard said.
At the beginning of June, Washington, D.C. painted “Black Lives Matter” on a street leading to the White House. New York City announced it would name a street in each borough “Black Lives Matter.”