Juneteenth event sparks questions surrounding mural donations

Local News

Source: John Smith

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Saturday, a group of community leaders will host a Juneteenth event at the Black Lives Matter mural on Woodland Street. The goal is to celebrate Juneteenth, educate on various topics like voter equality and to re-paint the now somewhat faded mural.

While the event is free to attend, the organizers are collecting donations from local businesses that want to be vendors.

“We’re not charging people a great deal of money,” said Grayce Gadson, co-organizer of the event. “We want people to donate what they can.”

Gadson is an organizer for the event and a member for the Tennessee Alliance for Progress, the organization that oversees the fiscal aspect of the mural. She says any money donated will go toward maintenance of the mural.

“We have to do two more repaints of this mural,” Gadson explained. “It’s not cheap because we have to obey all the regulations of public works and that costs a little bit of money, so we’re going to be short.”

Organizations like The People’s Plaza question how much money it will take to maintain the mural and whether or not those donations are being allocated properly.  

“I’m not convinced of the motivation for having this event,” said Angel Stansberry of The People’s Plaza, the group that protested for weeks at Legislative Plaza after the murder of George Floyd. “If this is just about making money for a small group of people so they can go on a golf trip or whatever, I’m going to have a big problem with that.”

According to the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Tennessee Alliance for Progress was given a $1,700 grant last year.

“It would really hurt my spirit to think that members of our own community would capitalize on the pain of others for profit,” said Stansberry. “That’s what I don’t want to see and that’s what my concern is.”

Event organizers say the donations they’ve already received just aren’t enough to keep up with the cost of maintenance.

“I think there’s always this campaign for resources. It’s very slim, especially for work that is allocated for black and poor communities, but it’s important that we support the mural and agencies that are fighting for justice,” said Robin Kimbrough Hayes.

The event will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

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