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CHS Pics | This summer’s repainting of Capitol Hill’s Black Lives Matter mural dedicated to Elijah Lewis

Artist Perri Rhoden touches up her letter on the Black Lives Matter street mural

The massive Black Lives Matter mural that fills E Pine is now a permanent part of the city’s streetscape. Every summer, it will get a touch-up and fresh coats of paint. This summer, the work to take care of the monument carried with it a new mission: honoring a fallen community leader.

Takiyah Ward, an organizer and co-founder of the Vivid Matter Collective, said this past weekend’s event was organized as a heartfelt tribute to Elijah Lewis, the community organizer gunned down in an April road rage shooting just a couple blocks from the mural.

“We have other folks working on some mural pieces for Elijah Lewis… So we decided to put together an activation just in his honor, in his legacy and all the things he did in the community,” Ward said.

Saturday’s activation provided an array of art supplies, including easels and paints, inviting people to engage in creative expression. “So we’ve got some easels and paintings and materials, folks, kids, young and old, and hang out and do their own art. So yeah, it’s just everything art today,” Ward said.

The Vivid Matter Collective shepherds the long-term responsibility of maintaining the Black Lives Matter mural it created in 2020. The “A Collective Thought” work was adopted by the Seattle Department of Transportation in the months following the July 2020 clearance of the Capitol Hill Occupied protest zone to make the big block-lettered mural a permanent part of the street to help memorialize that summer’s protests that came in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Reflecting on the annual mural repaint, Ward said, “The mural repaint always brings folks out, you know, it’s one of those things that people really enjoy.” She revealed how attendees recounted stories of how the mural had impacted their lives and how it had become an integral part of the neighborhood’s fabric.

Next summer, Vivid Matter Collective will be there to help repaint the work again but the 2023 effort has been special.

“Having the added activation for Elijah adds that sentimental touch to everything, being a friend of mine, being a friend of the community, being a friend to VMC (Vivid Matter Collective). Being able to do something like this for him and stuff was super important for us. Having the family out here of course is really great as well too. So you know, it’s a family affair,” Ward said.

Jenine Lewis, the mother of Elijah Lewis, told CHS about her son’s influence on the community and his dedication to fostering unity and positive change. Describing Elijah’s essence, Jenine Lewis said, “He’s the light you know, leader, helper, community leader, he saw the potential in a person where they may not see it for themselves and would feed that.”

But more work than repainting must be done by the city. 2023 has seen more deaths of young, Black people only blocks from the important BLM symbol including Essence Greene, the victim shot dead when gunfire broke out at a street racing gathering in July at Broadway and Pike. Greene was 20 years old.

Jenine Lewis with a painting by Myron Curry of her son, Elijah Lewis


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10 months ago

It’s great to see this freshened up and not left to fade away!