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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Community members protest removing 'Black Lives Do Matter' sign

The 'Black Lives Do Matter' art installation adjacent to Jervay Park.
Benjamin Schactman
/
WHQR
The 'Black Lives Do Matter' art installation adjacent to Jervay Park.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, four members of the public protested the removal of the “Black Lives Do Matter: End Racism Now” sign.

The sign is located in Jervay Memorial park, and was originally approved by the city in 2020. Wilmington City council voted at their last meeting to remove the sign by Dec. 27, with council members Kevin Spears and Clifford Barnett dissenting.

The council’s decision was based on some members’ concerns over setting a precedent for government speech, worrying that future groups could use the sign as an example to support messages of their own.

But during last night’s meeting, Wilmington resident Carlos Braxton said that the sign represented a larger shift in thinking about the oppression of the Black community.

“If the city of Wilmington can’t get behind an initiative that the whole world is behind on, then we’re kind of missing the mark, right?” he said.

Braxton also said that during election season, council candidates show up in Black churches to garner support — but those who voted against the sign shouldn’t have access to the Black community.

Sandra McClammy, a lifelong Wilmington resident, recounted the racism she faced growing up, like unspoken segregation in shops and being one of the first children to attend integrated schools.

She also said her mother was given an unfair literacy test that blocked her vote, and her father had to escape violence during the Wilmington 10 riots.

“That sign, what it says to me is: to your parents, Sandra, Wilmington apologizes,” she said.

After the previous council meeting, Councilmember Spears said ordinances restricting sign heights will make it difficult to find a place for the sign by the end of December.

The speakers in last night’s meeting also called for the city to at least allow more time to find a permanent home for the sign before removing it in December.

Grace is a multimedia journalist recently graduated from American University. She's attracted to issues of inequity and her reporting has spanned racial disparities in healthcare, immigration detention and college culture. In the past, she's investigated ICE detainee deaths at the Investigative Reporting Workshop, worked on an award-winning investigative podcast, and produced student-led video stories.