'Black Lives Matter' Painted Tall on San Francisco Streets

Bre'an Hayes and Hareg Kassaye stand in front of the Black Lives Matter street painting they participated in on Friday, June 12. (Anna Vignet/KQED)

On Friday, June 12, San Francisco joined Oakland, Sacramento, Seattle and Washington, D.C., in getting its own Black Lives Matter street mural.

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The words "Black Lives Matter", painted in bright yellow block lettering, now stretch out over three city blocks in S.F. on Fulton Street, between Webster and Octavia. Organizers from the African American Arts & Culture Complex, a community-based arts and cultural nonprofit, spearheaded the painting after the second week of national protests following the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Kids and adults joined in to complete the pavement painting that leads towards San Francisco City Hall. Many who took part live in the surrounding blocks, and stressed the importance of coming together as a community in the Fillmore — one of the last historically black neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Organizers and community members come together to paint San Francisco's first Black Lives Matter street painting, on the city's Fulton Street. (Anna Vignet/KQED)

One of those participating was local resident Daniel English, who found out about the event on social media. "Lo and behold, it was just outside my house," he said. English's family are also from this neighborhood.

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"Having public displays of affirmation and agreement with a message like Black Lives [Matter], for black people, is a big part I think of our overall societal growth," said English of the painting's visibility.

One of the minds behind the street painting who was present to see it completed was Tyra Fennell of Imprint City, an organization that creates "art activations" in San Francisco. Fennell and her fellow organizers "felt it would be a shame if San Francisco — which is usually the epicenter, or at least the jumping-off point, for many radical acts — did not participate in a show of solidarity," she said.

"Once the protests subside and people kind of go back to their regular lives, we want this to be a constant reminder to the city and its residents that Black lives still matter," Fennell said. "And we want to make sure that's reflected in future reforms, and legislation and things of that nature — and who, also, we elect into office. We want to make sure this message is kept at the forefront."