ROANOKE, Va. – One of Roanoke’s most well-traveled streets received a fresh, socially conscious coat of paint on Sunday.
Dozens of artists painted the message “End Racism Now” on the 200 block of Campbell Avenue, which is overlooked by the historic Municipal Building. The mural, which was planned by Roanoke’s Urban Arts Project, received approval from city leaders before artists started painting.
“We are all working together to end racism now,” said Eboni Harrington of the Urban Arts Project. “I hope this sparks much-needed conversations and unifies the entire community.”
Every letter was painted by a different artist, who put their own style into their design.
“In art, it’s up to you,” said Aly Jones of the Urban Arts Project. “It’s your interpretation, the artist’s expression of what the message is.”
Roanoke-based street artist Toobz Muir was responsible for the ‘A’ in the phrase.
“Instead of having to look for art in a gallery, you can go down the street and find this message that speaks to you and opens up your way of thinking,” Muir said.
After the phrase, artists painted several names of people killed by police violence.
I hope that this stays here as long as the paint stays, and hopefully beyond that,” said Linyae Harris, a Franklin County native who painted the name of Kionte Spencer, a teenager killed by Roanoke County police officers four years ago.
Harrington is hopeful the mural will cause onlookers to think about the art and their actions.
“What we’ve been seeing in DC and New York are cities taking a stand for their community,” Harrington said. “Roanoke should do the same.”