GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – “This project came from one artist proposing Black Lives Matter and it’s very important to him and our other lead artist that these words stay as close to that as possible,” said Holly Garriott, Pitt County Arts Council director.
These 18 local artists were inspired by street murals across the country and wanted to bring that message and the words “Black Lives Matter” to Greenville.
Negotiations in recent weeks led to a change to the mural at 1st Street between Cotanche and Washington saying “Black Lives Do Matter”.
A city council member wanted something different.
“I think that to unify the wording the wording needs to changes to ‘Unite against racism’,” said councilman Will Litchfield.
Monday night, Councilman Litchfield proposed an amendment, making the new wording “Unite against racism.”
“We can all agree that we can unite against racism,” he said.
Councilmembers Rick Smiley, Monica Daniels, and Mayor Pro Tem Rose Glover voted against the change.
“I really don’t think those words change how black people feel and we are trying to build bridges because the bridge is broken. When are we going to get to the point where we know the bridge needs to be mended and that African Americans have a voice in the city,” Glover said.
Despite opposition, the amendment passed, 4 to 3. Leaders with the Pitt County Arts Council said the artists spent months on the proposal and worked with the city to
“They already knew that the artists did not want to change the wording and it was very important for them to have ‘Black lives matter’. They had already compromised by adding the ‘do’ to make sure it had no affiliation with the political organization,” said Garriott.
Now artists are considering whether to go on with their work losing its key message.
“It’s a representation and a message that the black community really wants all of us to hear,” Garriott said.