KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Six Black Lives Matter murals are being painted across Kansas City, Missouri, this weekend.
The six locations are at East 63rd Street and Brookside Boulevard, East 63rd Street and Troost Avenue, East 18th and Vine streets, West 10th Street and Baltimore Avenue, East 31st Street and Troost Avenue and Northwest Briarcliff Parkway and North Mulberry Drive.
For several hours on Saturday, hundreds of volunteers painted the words “Black Lives Matter,” each with a different design and colors. The murals were paid for by donations.
Happening now: 6 #BlackLivesMatter murals being painted on several streets in #KCMO. We are at the 31st and Troost Avenue location. This one will feature mayors @repcleaver, @MayorSlyJames & @QuintonLucasKC in it along with MLK and other civil rights leaders. @41actionnews pic.twitter.com/TY8F7fC3D5— Nick Starling (@NickStarlingTV) September 5, 2020
Michael Toombs, lead artist at the 31st and Troost site, said he wanted to take a positive approach in his artwork.
"I feel like we’ve dealt with the issue, we’re still dealing with the issue, but when you’re dealing with things like this there’s comes a point when you have to deal with healing and that’s what this project is about. The healing," Toombs said.
Each of the six murals will look different and Toomb's design focuses on civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the three Black Kansas City mayors. Toombs referenced the significance of painting a Black Lives Matter mural on Troost in his work.
"I put the red line through the mural because I wanted it to represent that idea of what the red line represented," Toombs said.
Katie Mabry-Van Dieren, Troost Market Collective co-founder and BLM mural project lead, said the volunteer form for the project had to be disabled because more than 600 people signed up. COVID-19 forced restrictions on the number of people who were allowed to help.
But Niyko and Lonai Baker were two volunteers who were able to contribute. Lonai, 16, worked on the 18th and Vine mural and said she was happy to be out supporting the efforts.
"It's cool," she said. "It makes me very happy to be able to be here."
Niyko said she was proud of her daughter's involvement in the project.
"There’s a demographic here of ages, of races and so just doing these type of things helps with the environment with the racial tension," Niyko said. "This is to help minimize doing these type of things here."
The KC Art on the Block effort is a partnership between the city, the Troost Market Collective, the NAACP Kansas City Missouri Branch and the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.
Organizers hope this sends a message of unity in hopes of ending racism in Kansas City.