MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A Black Lives Matter mural has been painted around the historic Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery.
Artist Michelle Browder said the project came together in less than a week and was completed on Friday, known as Juneteenth. Other artists volunteered to help and Mayor Steven Reed signed off on it.
“We were all determined to make sure this happened and was finished for today, which is a very special day for many of our ancestors and us as a community,” Browder said.
Juneteenth marks the day on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863 but it was not enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
While several cities have recently painted Black Lives Matter murals in the middle of streets, Browder chose the Court Square Fountain because of the location’s significance to African Americans.
“Montgomery, Alabama, we are so unique to the rest of the country. This is where slaves were bought, sold, and traded. This is where the Confederacy happened. This is where the bank that funded the Civil War. This is where our people and those black lives really mattered because it built this city. So why not have it right here for the world to see it,” Browder said.
The area surrounding the fountain was the center of Montgomery’s slave trade. It’s also within view of the nearby Winter Building where the telegraph was sent that marked the start of the Civil War, as well as the statue of Rosa Parks that reminds visitors of the spot where she refused to give up her seat on a city bus.