CHARLOTTE – A full block of Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte transformed Tuesday.
The street now shows the message that's echoed among the skyscrapers so loud over the last few weeks:
BLACK LIVES MATTER
After cities like Washington, D.C., and Raleigh unveiled similar murals on major thoroughfares in recent days, a group of Charlotte community leaders, led by the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Is Creative, Brand the Moth and BLKMRKTCLT decided to do the same.
Each of the letters was designed and painted by a different local artist with different colors, stylings and inspirations.
Artist Dammit Wesley was contacted by Sam Guzzie from Brand the Moth.
"She reached out to me, not only because we've collaborated before in the past, but I'm kind of playing the role of a curator of artists and helped provide a platform and resource for artists of color in the city," Wesley said.
Wesley had less than a day to organize each letter's artist and design. Not only did he find willing artists, but he also found friends to provide supplies, shade, food, and support throughout the day.
Wesley's letter, 'B,' used a motif of comic book characters, incorporating Storm from the 1970's X-Men. It also included a word bubble that asked, "Why do I not matter? Why doesn't America love me?"
"As African-Americans, we feel like superheroes," Wesley said. "The weight of the world is on our shoulders, but no matter what we do, we can't get the same amount of love that's reciprocated with America. I want to pose that question, and hopefully, the people of Charlotte will see it and ingest it and put some action behind their thoughts."
The 'S' in the mural went to local artists Jason Woodberry and Marcus Kiser, who were inspired to create something for "the next generation."
"Having this in this space is a statement," Woodberry said. "My pops always told me that everybody needs a flag. I think for people right now that are coming together behind this in the community, this is that flag. There is a lot of work to be done. This is that visual boost and morale, but the work is still done outside of this."
The mural comes a week after Panthers players Shaq Thompson, Tre Boston, Andre Smith, Chris Manhertz and Ian Thomas participated in a "justice walk" in Charlotte. Their public actions did not go unnoticed.
"I'm reliving the time that my dad used to tell me about with Jim Brown and all these athletes that are stepping up and making their faces and voices known," Woodberry said. "It's not for a publicity stunt. Those guys making their faces known and coming out there and showing who they are and not hiding behind anything.
"We want to support our team. We want to support our players. I think it's awesome because those guys have a lot to lose. For them to come out there and act, no matter what the repercussions could be, those are the types of things that I put in front of my son. I want him to see that no matter your level of success, you're still a person at the end of the day."
View pictures of the new mural on Tryon street as it was created by some of the city's artists.