Community comes together to paint 'Black Lives Matter' street mural at MLK and Locust

MILWAUKEE -- While official events were canceled, many Milwaukee residents found productive and creative ways to celebrate Juneteenth on Friday.

Dozens pitched in to make a colorful "Black Lives Matter" mural on the street in the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Locust Street -- not far from Milwaukee Police Department District 5.

Milwaukee "Black Lives Matter" street mural

"I think it's beautiful, the paint they're doing on this ground," said Debbie Scott.

Taking paint to pavement, the mural came to life. It took more than six hours to complete, with hands of all ages and backgrounds there to help. Vedale Hill helped paint the words as the project's lead artist.

"Nice, beautiful, vibrant colors," Hill said. "As loud as it is, I get to channel it all out and focus on the lines I'm creating."

Milwaukee "Black Lives Matter" street mural

The creation of the community mural is designed to help celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

Milele Coggs

"Juneteenth is to me what July 4 may be to some others," said Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs. "A day of appreciating the moment and the present and all we have, but also recognizing the work that lies ahead."

As music and dancing took over, many reflected on what the day is about.

"Culture, unity and coming together," Scott said.

Lessons were taught to the children who pitched in to help.

"To teach my son the importance of Juneteenth. I don't want him not knowing about it," said Nate Irvine.

Milwaukee "Black Lives Matter" street mural

Like good art, the road to change will take hard work, patience and perseverance. For many, the installation is one step closer to progress.

Vedale Hill

"In many ways, we're not free now to roam around and progress economically like we should be able to," Hill said. "It's a beautiful, large-scale mural."

The mural is permanent. Leaders hope people will not only drive by it, but park and support local businesses.