The Greenburgh Town Board is making strides to support the Black Lives Matter movement with a three-part project that includes a meaningful and educational mural on Manhattan Avenue.
The mural, which would be featured on both sides of the overpass where I-287 stretches over Manhattan Avenue, would illustrate Black history from 1619 to today, Councilman Ken Jones said. Jones added the design would also highlight Greenburgh residents and their accomplishments over the years.
Jones is currently overseeing a subcommittee that is spearheading this effort.
Furthermore, rocks leading up to the mural would be painted red, black and green, with certain ones labeled with the names of Black individuals who have been killed by police officers. Some rocks would be intentionally left blank in the event other fatal incidents occur, Jones said.
A QR code, which is a barcode your phone can scan, will also be listed on the mural that will lead to a website with historical information and a description of certain imagines depicted in the painting. No design has currently been submitted to the town for consideration.
“The mural is very involved. It’s going to be really detailed,” Jones said at the board’s Feb. 16 work session. “It’s really going to be a nice educational experience for people in the town. I think it’s going to come out quite nicely.”
Jones added that the town will collaborate with the Greenburgh Central School District, youths from the Theodore D. Young Community Center and the housing authority in creating the project. Local artist Madison Hood has been tapped to design the mural.
Jones said a muralist will likely be hired as a consultant to ensure the project is sustained for a long time. However, the mural is the last phase of the project.
The first part, which Jones said is the easiest, will be to create and place placards at various entry points to the town that state “All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.”
The second phase is a banner project. Jones said the idea is to have five different banners hung on five designated buildings throughout the town, with students from local school districts creating the posters.
Jones added that the Arts and Culture Committee will also sponsor an essay contest for the students to participate in while they work on the banners.
The essay will have students answer a specific question relating to the Black Lives Matter movement. Jones said the current option is to have the students explain the meaning behind why society uses the phrase Black Lives Matter.
He added that a booklet will then be produced to include the essays and various designs created by students to hand out at the opening for the mural.
“What’s very important to us is that it’s more than just an art project, it’s more than just a saying, we want it to be a history lesson,” Jones said. “And this is the way in which we’re trying to make it into a history lesson for people, so they understand what the words mean, why we’re saying them, why we’re saying them now and why they’re important.”
While Jones signaled completion of the mural is likely a year away, Town Supervisor Paul Feiner suggested a temporary sign be placed at the overpass indicating a mural will be coming soon. Community Center Deputy Commissioner Terrance Jackson suggested the sign be the same one placed at the welcome points.
Erecting a sign on the overpass would require state approval, Councilman Francis Sheehan said.
While board members expressed their support and excitement for the project, Jones said there could be some budgetary issues. The venture is estimated to cost between $30,000 and $50,000. He said the committee is currently searching for additional funds and grants to lessen the cost burden on the town.
“I can’t imagine people not wanting to contribute to an effort like this,” Feiner said.