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‘Black Lives Matter’ painted at site of former slave market

In downtown Montgomery, at a city fountain where a slave market was believed to have once stood, a new painting proclaiming “Black Lives Matter,” has been added.

Michelle Browder and a group of artists painted the message around the fountain at Court Square in downtown Montgomery, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The painting was completed on Friday for Juneteenth, which references June 19, 1865 — the day that marks when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free.

The spot is at what was once believed to be the center of the slave markets in Montgomery. The fountain is down the street from the Alabama Capitol and near the building where the telegram was sent at the start of the Civil War ordering Confederate troops to begin bombing Fort Sumter off the South Carolina coast.

“This is where slaves were bought, sold, and traded. This is where the Confederacy happened. This is where the bank that funded the Civil War. This is where our people and those black lives really mattered because it built this city. So why not have it right here for the world to see it,” Browder told WSFA.

WSFA reported that the city signed off on the project for the Juneteenth commemoration.

A similar mural was painted on a street in downtown Birmingham.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed issued a proclamation celebrating Juneteenth and asking Gov. Kay Ivey to make it an official holiday, The Advertiser reported. Alabama has three state holidays honoring the Confederacy.

“We must embrace Alabama’s full legacy. Montgomery … stands as tangible testament to the uncommon courage and tenacity of Civil Rights foot soldiers. However, their journey to freedom began in chains and in tunnels on our cities’ main streets,” Reed said in a statement.

“Juneteenth allows us to commemorate the symbolic and historical end of slavery while reflecting on the long road to racial reconciliation in America.”

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