Black Lives Matter street mural unveiled in Oak Park, first of its kind in Illinois

OAK PARK, Ill. -- Young artists and community organizers in Oak Park are unveiling a uniquely colorful Black Lives Matter street mural.

"In Oak Park, we wanted to change it up a little bit and give it our own little twist," said Cullen Benson, who first proposed the idea on an Oak Park community Facebook page.

Benson said they decided to include eight colors "because Oak Park is a colorful community and a welcoming community."

Benson collaborated with co-organizer Cortlyn Kelly and artist Franka Del Santo to create the design and mobilize dozens of volunteers to help.

"The way I make paintings is with masking," Del Santo said. "And that's pretty much what we're doing right now to make this bursting design that is just attention-grabbing."

Kelly said that she was excited to join a public art project led by people of color, one of several different ways she is participating in the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I hope that people don't see this as a performative act, I hope people see that we are doing something to have a long-lasting effect," Kelly said.

Kelly added that the colors were especially intended to make the mural LGBTQ-inclusive.

Camille Wilson White, the executive director of the Oak Park Area Arts Council, helped push approval for the project through as quickly as possible when she heard the idea. And she's excited to add this newest installation to her town.

"To have the ability to create a major public art piece right here in our town, I think it's pretty amazing," Wilson White said.