The Hartford Black Lives Matter street painting was created on July 26, 2020 as part of the nationwide protest movement “Black Lives Matter” that erupted following the wide media circulation of cell-phone images of the May 25, 2020 strangulation of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin. The BLM movement exploded in the midst of the unprecedented pandemic which drove millions into isolation, loss of income, quarantine and solitude. In a national moment of cultural unison and action, not seen for decades, citizens across the nation were called to the front lines to speak out against a rash of injustices and deaths of people of color in violent confrontations across the country.
In Hartford, the BLM movement was expressed by a spontaneous coalition of volunteers who organized under the name BLM 860 referring to the telephone area code for Connecticut. The effort took the physical form of a community based mural project to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on the surface of Trinity Street in Bushnell Park within sight of the State Capitol. The street art mural is over one hundred feet long. Each letter was given to a different group to design and paint. Some letters are illustrations of scenes or symbols referring to the lives and histories of Black Citizens while others incorporate the names of the volunteer painters. The result is a powerful example of the meeting of art and activism.