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Artist Keyonna Jones details working on Black Lives Matter mural in DC

Artist Keyonna Jones (Photo credit: Sareen Hairbedian)

On Friday, June 5, 2020, D.C. residents woke up to the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” painted on the street leading up to the White House. The bold yellow words could be seen via satellite and captured the attention of people across the country and around the world. The mural was commissioned by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser after widespread protests in response to the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody. Seven artists, including D.C. native Keyonna Jones, owner of the Congress Heights Arts and Culture Center, were chosen to use their time and talents to make this vision come to life. Rolling out spoke with Jones about participating in this historic moment.

How do you feel?

I’m still processing, to be very honest with you. This morning when I woke up, I was extremely overwhelmed because I realized that I hadn’t really taken time to process before I even started what I was about to be a part of. 

Where did the idea come from to use yellow paint?

There [were] a lot of things that were outlined in terms of what they wanted us to do. Yellow was already chosen. If anybody knows anything about colors and meanings, yellow is the color willpower, so it was an excellent choice. 

Tell us how this project came to be?

Thursday [June 4] was a regular day for me. I was doing my art in my personal studio, and I got a call from another artist. There were seven artists total, and one of the artists reached out to me at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening saying that there was an art project that the city was doing, and she thought that I would be perfect for it and that there was a budget. That was really [all] the details I had. She didn’t say where it was gonna be [or] what we were doing.

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