The mural along Joralemon Street between Court and Adams streets in Downtown Brooklyn is one of five that will be painted in each borough. Joralemon Street was also co-named “Black Lives Matter Boulevard.”
Last month, activists created a similar Black Lives Matter mural in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Borough President Eric Adams noted that the message will be plastered in front of the oldest government building in Brooklyn, as well as Kings County courts and Department of Education buildings.
“We’re putting it here for a reason,” he said. “This is not a fad, this is not some popularity event. This is going to remain on the ground.”
The idea for Black Lives Matter street murals came from local activists. They met with Mayor Bill de Blasio last month amid protests, and convinced him that the city needs to recognize “the power of the phrase Black Lives Matter.”
According to Reverend Kevin McCall, crisis director for the National Action Network, the mayor’s office called a few hours after their meeting to say de Blasio has agreed to the five murals.
“We are painting Black Lives Matter for each and every Brooklynite,” McCall said, “so every court officer, every judge, every police officer, when they drive their cars, when they walk this beat, they will understand that black lives matter.”
“It’s not just symbolism to look at,” added Anthony Beckford, president of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn. “At the end of the day, the system was not built to empower us, but we will be empowered to make sure they work for us.”
Councilman Stephen Levin, who represents the area, said while he’s gratified for the mural, the work does not stop there. He said lawmakers have to take the legislative actions and invest in communities of color.
“We are going to do what we have to do as a society to face up to the racist past and structural racism we have had in this country for far too many generations,” he said. “Our charge is to put these words into action every single day in everything we do.”
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the first black woman to chair the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said people have turned outrage over the murder of George Floyd into action.
In addition to the collective celebration of Juneteenth for the first time in history, Bichotte said state lawmakers passed a slew of police reform measures, from repealing 50-a and banning chokeholds to passing a special prosecutor law.
But she also noted racism is not exclusive to policing. Schools are still segregated, and racism is still pervasive in housing, wages and health care.
“It is embedded in our society, in our culture,” she said. “Black Lives Matter is a whole issue of equity and how we live.
“This mural is a representation of how far we’ve gone, and how far we have yet to go,” Bichotte added. “I know this public representation of our struggle will one day be part of the history of Brooklyn too.”
Mayor de Blasio later arrived on Joralemon Street to observe the mural and help with the completion, along with Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
“Racism has been a pervasive and consequential force throughout the city’s history and we cannot go back to the status quo,” he said on June 19 when announcing the murals. “We must use the past to inform and inspire the present, to promote the dignity and well-being of all New Yorkers, and their full inclusion in the life of our city.”