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Pacific political science graduate organizes BLM street mural

Black Lives Matter mural

Volunteers led by Pacific graduate Ameer Othman painted a giant "Black Lives Matter" mural on Argonne Drive near Victory Park in Stockton.

Jun 26, 2020
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The idea came to Ameer Othman on a Tuesday evening.

The work had to be completed by early afternoon on Friday—Juneteenth.

In between there was all sorts of organizing—meeting people, securing donations, dealing with City Hall, design work by an artist and, finally, putting paint (washable chalk paint, actually) to asphalt.

The result was a giant mural on Argonne Drive near Victory Park in Stockton. Spelled out in block letters was “Black Lives Matter.”

“We believe strongly in what Black Lives Matter stands for,” said Othman ’20, a political science graduate who now does field operations for a State Assembly political campaign. “A lot of things had to come together quickly. But we finished the work just after noon on June 19. It was very rewarding.”

Othman had seen news coverage of similar BLM street murals in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. He knew there was limited time so he contacted others with organizing experience including Summer Escobar, who helped raise about $1,000 for supplies.

The city of Stockton secured the street where the painting took place, although Othman was frustrated that a permit could not happen. Because of that, he said, mural organizers had to direct traffic at times to other side streets.

“But 95 percent of the drivers had no problem with it,” he said. “It all worked out.”

From 8 a.m. to about 1 p.m., the talent of lead artist Kia Duras-Carter was on display. She planned the size and spacing of the block letters, painted with passion and organized the work of others, Othman said.

“We want to be part of the movement,” Duras-Carter told The Record newspaper. “… It is a statement to show unity in our community and to help promote civil rights for everybody and keep the movement going.”

Othman works full time during the election season and is applying to graduate schools.

“I really enjoy politics and community work,” he said. “I want to make a positive impact. One of the beauties of this project is that most of us did not know each other before getting involved. But we all believed in the cause.”

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