New local mural uses language from City Council resolution to symbolize Evanston’s intent of establishing equity


Chiara Kim/The Daily Northwestern

Ben Blount’s mural lies at the intersection of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue.

Chiara Kim, Reporter


“Whereas, City of Evanston embraces, believes, recognizes, acknowledges, declares and affirms.”

These words, in large capital letters, stretch across two walls on the intersection of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue. They pull from the city resolution 58-R-19, Evanston’s “commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity,” which City Council unanimously adopted in June 2019. 

Local artist Ben Blount is behind the project. He said the mural serves as a statement of Evanston’s purpose and vision to citizens and visitors alike. 

“I’m echoing a resolution that was passed by City Council unanimously,” Blount said. “So I’m … maybe reinforcing it, but also putting some energy and hope behind it.”

The resolution states Evanston must recognize its history of racial injustice and discriminatory policies, such as disinvestment in the Black community. 

The Main-Dempster Mile, a community development organization, sponsored the mural, which was installed Oct. 31.

“It seems to me that it is a piece of Evanston’s history,” Executive Director Katherine Gotsick said. “Very recent, obviously, but hopefully an inflection point and a starting point for the future.” 

The Main-Dempster Mile first began working with Blount when they purchased posters from him in an effort to support Evanston’s Black community. The organization distributed the posters, which said “Black Lives Love& Strive& Hope& Struggle& Matter,” to any of the stores along the Mile that wanted them. 

Along with selling his art in local stores, Blount has designed banners to hang from neighborhood light-poles. 

“Ben was already at the very front of our mind,” Gotsick said. “He already had a very solid recognition in our district.”

The mural was approved by Evanston’s Arts Council and by the 9th and 3rd Ward alderpeople, as the mural rests on a ward border. 

Gotsick highlighted that Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th), a co-author of the 2019 resolution, along with Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) were both very supportive of the mural. 

Main-Dempster Mile also received a $1,000 grant from the city through the Neighborhood Arts Grant Program to support the installment of the mural.

Classy Closet’s manager, Sophie Malecki, said the mural shows active reflection on social justice. She added that it is valuable to see that these issues are on the minds of people within the town government.

“I hope that people will walk by and feel seen in some way,” Malecki said. “(The mural) can help spark a little bit of joy, and I think that, in and of itself, helps.”

Gotsick said the Main-Dempster Mile is also in the process of commissioning a plaque which explains the story of the mural.

Without the context of the resolution, Blount said residents may be curious about the mural, as they may not know exactly what message it’s affirming. 

“Those words might resonate and you might be able to understand that it is about bigger things,” Blount asserted. “Whether it’s about race or whether it’s about gender or sexual orientation or just difference, the idea (is) that Evanston is a place that could see you however you show up.”

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