(Photo Credits: Screengrab from @jshine1224’s Official Twitter Account)

Say their names! 

This is the battle cry of the Andersonville neighborhood who took to the streets to honor hundreds of Black trans people lost to violence but not in the way you think. 

Earlier this month, the community had come together to create a Black Trans Lives Matter mural. They gathered $4,000 to commission artists and to buy the materials needed for their project. A total of 22 Chicago artists and groups reportedly painted the words “Black Trans Lives Matter” on Catalpa Avenue between Clark Street and Ashland Avenue. Take a look at the result below:

Recently, the local artists and neighbors had, once again, worked together. 

This time around, it’s to add in the mural the names and portraits of hundreds of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals including people of color who died from violence, some in the hands of the police. 

The names, which have been color-coded in order to “give context to the deaths,” now encircle the mural. For example, the artists used pink to indicate that these were the people who were killed by the police in the past five years. On the other hand, they used yellow to indicate they were the unarmed people of color killed by police since 1975. The chamber—the organizer of the project—said more names will be added in the weeks to follow.

Among the names and portraits that they have done so far is that of Marsha P. Johnson, an African American transgender woman and LGBTQ rights activist best remembered as one of the key figures of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Another is Merci Mack, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman killed in Dallas on June 30 of this year and Tony McDade, a Black transgender man allegedly killed by the police in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 27, 2020.

According to Block Club Chicago, the initiative was organized by the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th). Reportedly, it’s not the first time the chamber has worked on trans-inclusive projects, they have previously conducted a “trans/gender nonconforming symposium for business owners and a trans visibility takeover of Clark Street in Fall 2019.”

David Oakes, director of business services for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview by Block Club Chicago that the community “hopes of highlighting the political urgency behind the statement, ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.'” He explained, “It is vital that when folks see that Black Trans Lives Matter [mural] they understand the context of why it matters.”

Read the story in full here and here.

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