Editorial: Repaint Castle Drive BLM mural


Patrick Murphy

The word “Matter” from the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is painted in red letters along Castle Drive.

What once served as a powerful recognition of the importance of Black lives is now barely visible as the words “Black Lives Matter” continue to fade on Castle Drive. 

The Northern Star Editorial Board believes that the words Black Lives Matter should be repainted on Castle Drive, as the movement has continued to push for equality. 

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 after Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager, was shot and killed in Florida, according to the Black Lives Matter website.  

The movement grew as Black people continued to be murdered in America, some even by police officers. 

In May 2020, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a police officer as the officer kneeled on his neck, taking away his ability to breathe. 

Floyd’s death drew nationwide attention as a video of the incident circulated on the internet, sparking protests against racism and police brutality. 

Black Lives Matter was then painted onto the road in honor of George Floyd’s memory just a month after an unknown criminal vandalized the Center for Black Studies on Sept. 16, 2020, by spray painting the n-word onto the building, according to the Northern Star

The culprit was never caught, forcing NIU police to close the case five months later, according to the Northern Star

While it’s not been said that the on-campus incident motivated the university to paint the mural, the incident is proof that racism can happen anywhere, even on our own campus. 

Almost two years later, the mural is almost unreadable, because the words were painted in water-based paint. 

“Though the image may fade, our commitment to social justice and to a strong Huskie community will remain vivid and strong,” said Paul Kassel, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, in an April 3 Northern Star article

While attention to the movement has continued to fade on social media, just like the mural has continued to fade, the Black Lives Matter movement is not a temporary trend. 

The importance of Black lives cannot be washed away like water-based paint. 

About 17% of Northern Illinois University’s 16,234 students are Black, according to student enrollment data from Fall 2021. 

These students need to know that their university supports a movement dedicated to protecting their lives. While adding some paint to a road cannot fix years of abuse and oppression, it can at least remind us, especially those in power, that we must hold ourselves accountable and continue to do better by marginalized communities.

The university should repaint the words Black Lives Matter with a more permanent paint to better show support for Black students.