KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Volunteers gathered in Kalamazoo Friday to paint a Black Lives Matter mural on the street near Bronson Park.

Teams started working on the project around 8 a.m., which spans South Rose Street between West South Street and West Lovell Street.

Organizers say they were inspired by the Black Lives Matter mural painted near the White House in Washington, D.C.

The event was also scheduled to coincide with Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery.

  • A Black Lives Matter mural in Kalamazoo on June 19, 2020.
  • A Black Lives Matter mural in Kalamazoo on June 19, 2020.
  • A Black Lives Matter mural in Kalamazoo on June 19, 2020.

Artist Jamari Taylor came from Grand Rapids to help with the project.

“It’s a reminder every day whenever someone rides past, they’re reminded Black Lives Matter. We deserve to be treated equally. We deserve to be a part of the community,” Taylor said.

Volunteer Darien Burress was part of the team that laid out stencils and measured to make sure each letter was perfectly spaced.

“It feels like there’s a permanence to it. When you paint those letters, when you physically put it there, to me, it says that you can’t get rid of us. You can’t erase us. We are here. We are part of your communities,” Burress said.

Calvin Green, an artist from Kalamazoo, says the mural is a way to bring people together at a time when so much is happening across the country.

“Am I upset? Yeah, I got a lot to be upset about, we can be upset all day but to see the community come together, this helps with healing, this is racial healing,” Green said.

For the mural artists, being able to paint the mural on Juneteenth brought special significance.

“It’s a holiday that can be celebrated by the nation to bring awareness to the history of race, ethnicity, and inequality in our society,” Green said.

The volunteers who work on the community project hope it has a lasting impact.

“To really just remind the community that we need to uplift each other and support one another,” Taylor said.

Since the paint will fade over time, some of the artists say they would like to see the pavement freshly painted every year.