City resident Michael Little has been selected to paint a Black Lives Matter street mural on Colonial Avenue in front of City Hall.
Little was one of four artists who submitted proposals to paint the mural as part of the city’s Black Lives Matter Street Art Project. The project was approved by City Council following the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. by three Pasquotank sheriff’s deputies on April 21.
Little will receive no compensation for painting the mural but the city will pay for the paint and other supplies.
“The unfortunate part is that tragedies like this have spawned these types of murals,” said City Manager Montre Freeman. “The beautiful part is the ability for people to come together and be a part of this project. There is a great deal of excitement around it.”
More than 1,000 people cast votes to pick the winning artist’s design. Freeman said the voting was close among the four competing designs but that Little, 27, won by a comfortable margin. Freeman did not provide a breakdown of the voting when contacted Thursday afternoon.
“It’s very creative and it is very clean,” Freeman said of the winning mural. “I think it will look very good. There will be some colors that will go on the street that will make it nice and visible. I think citizens will appreciate it and take great pride in it.’’
Little said he was a bit surprised that his mural design was selected.
“I had the most simple design and I didn’t know if people would vote for it,” Little said. “I’m excited to know that my mural will now be a part of the city’s history.’’
The design Little submitted features the words “Black Lives Matter” in white with a light gray covering parts of each letter. The “i” in the word “Lives” is topped by a crown, while several other letters include small, strategically placed images of a sun, a heart, a star and a peace symbol.
Little said he got the idea for the sun from the city’s flag.
“It means that every day is a new day and people have a choice every morning to get up and to do what they want to do with their lives,” Little said. “The crown means that everyone should be treated with respect, everyone is royalty. The star is to show that Black people are part of the country and we should be treated as Americans as well.”
Council initially discussed having the BLM mural painted in the street in front of the Pasquotank Public Safety Building. The city’s plan, however, is to have the mural painted on the street in front of the city’s Midgett Building and H. Rick Gardner Municipal Building. The complete mural could be up 720 feet long.
There will be an opening ceremony and dedication of the project in front of the H. Rick Gardner Municipal Building at 8 a.m. Saturday followed by a prayer breakfast at Waterfront Park at 8:30 a.m. The McDonald’s on North Road Street is donating 150 breakfast sandwiches and drinks for the breakfast.
“It’s going to be a grand day in front of City Hall,” Freeman said.
Part of the prayer breakfast will be the launching of lanterns in memory of the “fallen of Elizabeth City, including those lives lost due to COVID-19,” Freeman said.
“We will release lanterns in memory of all the citizens we have lost through COVID and what have you,” he said.
Freeman said he hopes work on the mural will begin on Saturday, which is also Juneteenth, but some logistics of the project are still being worked out.
Public Works employees started prepping the street for the mural on Thursday afternoon.