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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Black Lives Matter-Inspired Street Message Now Borders San Antonio's Travis Park

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 1:04 PM

click to enlarge The completed street mural surrounds downtown's Travis Park. - COURTESY PHOTO / CENTRO SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy Photo / Centro San Antonio
  • The completed street mural surrounds downtown's Travis Park.
Early Wednesday morning, artists and volunteers completed a poetic street mural around downtown San Antonio's Travis Park in the familiar yellow block letters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The project, meant to show solidarity with nationwide protests calling for social justice, was created as part of a public art program overseen by Centro San Antonio, a nonprofit dedicated to beautifying downtown.



The words, supplied by San Antonio poet laureate Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson, read: "Jubilant and exuberant is the melanin of our skin / From despair, we have arisen."

"For us, this art project was inspired by the evolution of the civil rights movement that's taking place around the country right now," said Matt Brown, Centro San Antonio's CEO. "[Our program] is about how we make downtown into a giant canvas for artists to tell their stories or to put a conversation out there."

Sanderson penned the poem at the request of Andi Rodriguez, Centro's vice president of urban planning. It covers three of the four streets framing the park, which had a Confederate monument as its centerpiece until 2017.

click to enlarge San Antonio poet laureate Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson stands by completed letters of the mural. - COURTESY PHOTO / CENTRO SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy Photo / Centro San Antonio
  • San Antonio poet laureate Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson stands by completed letters of the mural.
Rodriguez began assembling the pieces for the project six weeks ago, roping in local artists Anthony Dean-Harris and Scotch! to complete the design and oversee the 20 volunteers who worked overnight to complete the painting. She also obtained approval from both the city and VIA, which had to reroute buses during the work.

Sanderson, who assisted in the painting, was unavailable for an interview at press time. However, she posted a Facebook video overnight thanking those who worked on the project.

"Dear San Antonio, you're going to wake up in the morning and you're going to find out the poet laureate of San Antonio ... has been working really, really hard to share a tremendous love letter with you," she said in the message.

Artist Dean-Harris said he was honored to take part in the work, even if he would have preferred the language to be more direct in calling for the defunding of police or the abolition of the city's police union.

"In the meantime, we do have a lovely message surrounding a park that once had a Confederate statue in the middle of it — and that's pretty cool too," he said.

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