Community members gather for the dedication of anti-racist mural on MLK Day


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Artist Ben Blount’s mural “Resolved” on the Main-Dempster mile. Located near the Main Street CTA station on Washington Street, the mural commemorates the city’s commitment in 2019 to end structural racism.

Nixie Strazza, Reporter

More than 50 residents gathered Monday for the dedication of local artist Ben Blount’s newly-erected mural, with remarks from elected officials and community leaders. 

Blount designed the mural, which was first installed on Oct. 31, to symbolize the city’s commitment to racial equity. The mural, with lettering stenciled by local artist Daniel Burnett, reads, “Whereas, City of Evanston embraces, believes, recognizes, acknowledges, declares and affirms.” The language  directly stems from the city’s 2019 Resolution to End Structural Racism and Achieve Racial Equity

Blount said he specifically chose to feature the verbs in the resolution to emphasize the necessary actions required to combat structural racism and injustice. He said he kept the object of the sentence open ended as to allow varied interpretations of areas in need of growth and change regarding anti-discriminatory practices in Evanston. Blount said he did not want to limit the city to a single solution, rather ignite a new way of approaching problems devoid of racial baisies. 

“They are words that mean you are doing something,” Blount said. “Not just thinking or wondering.”

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) spearheaded the city’s resolution to achieve racial equity, which includes an apology for the trauma inflicted on historically marginalized residents and an acknowledgement of the Potawatomi land on which the city was founded. 

A scannable plaque placed next to the installation features a QR code to the entire document. 

Work on the mural, which stands at 600 Washington St. under the Main Street CTA station, began in summer 2020 with support from The Main-Dempster Mile merchants association and The Evanston Mural Arts Program.

Mayor Daniel Biss called on spectators to ensure the large white letters painted on the underpass do not become empty promises of change. 

“What lives at the intersection of intention, language and action is art,” Biss said. “It provides mechanisms for us to communicate about commitments to one another and enables us to hold ourselves accountable.” 

YoFresh Cafe owner Larry Murphy drew connections between Blount’s design and the public art installation at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C. 

With the bold lettering behind him, Murphy said the fitting tribute to the late Martin Luther King Jr. ensured Evanston would not be included in the “appalling silence of good people” when righting the wrongs inflicted against Black Americans. 

“The social redress of eons of abuse and the marginalization of people of color must begin at the seat of government itself,” Murphy said. 

Murphy said the resolution is a step towards overhauling systems meant to perpetuate racial divides and second class citizenry of Black Americans. By acknowledging a past tarnished by racial discrimination, Murphy said the city is better able to evolve for the future. 

Third-generation Evanston resident Kathy Hayes said the mural is serving as a healing step on the long road to progress in Evanston. 

Reflecting on the day, Hayes said the public denoucement of racial discrimination would have been outside the realm of possibilty for the long line of South Carolina sharecroppers in her family before her. 

“This does my heart well for my ancestors,” Hayes said. “I hope that the promise can be fulfilled.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @NixieStrazza

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