They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Few would claim that Orlando city leaders had anything but the best intentions in mind when they painted the words “Black Lives Matter” in letters 30 feet high on the surface of Rosalind Avenue. But many residents, Black and white alike, question the utility of the gesture.
After “BLACK LIVES MATTER” was painted in giant letters on Washington, D.C.’s 16th Street just across from the White House, other cities took notice. From Oakland, California, to Raleigh, North Carolina, mayors emulated D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser with their own BLM street murals.
In Orlando, after a coalition of community and faith leaders and activists presented a plan, the decision was made by city staff to move forward with the City Beautiful’s own version, painted on a stretch of Rosalind between Washington and Robinson streets.
On a sunny Friday morning, local pols got the outline started in red paint, masks on faces and broom-handle paint rollers gripped firmly, for a photo op. Then youth enrolled in the city’s summer camp program and students from Jones High School were joined by volunteers from Black Voters Matter, Cobaris International Ministries, Drop D No Limits Foundation, Equal Ground Education Fund, Faith in Florida, Greater Refuge, New Image Youth Center, Salvation Army, Stop the Violence and Embrace, the Experience Christian Center and Valencia College rolled up their sleeves and applied 170 gallons of black, green and red paint to a 400-foot-long asphalt canvas.