Durham community hopes to cover spot that held hateful message with unifying mural

Crews and community members started to clean the graffiti Thursday morning (Lauren Haviland/CBS North Carolina)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham community is coming together to fight back against hate.

People have plans to paint a mural over the space where a hateful message was spray-painted on a wall downtown recently.

In November, community members came together to remove graffiti from JC’s Kitchen. It read, “BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER AND NEITHER DOES YOUR VOTE.”

Now there are plans to cover the space with a positive message.

“I was very angry about it, naturally, and then it was maybe two days later that I found out it was actually in my town,” said Geraud Staton, a local artist.

He said the message doesn’t represent the place he calls home.

“Durham is one of the places that’s turned into one of the best places to live, it’s on all these lists, and the idea that that could happen here was just, it was a shock,” he said.

Staton has been chosen as the lead artist to paint a mural on the wall that reflects the community.

“Even though I said we wanted to fight back, we don’t want this mural to be something where people come and get aggressive, we want it to be something that’s inclusive for everybody,” he said.

The chipped wall will be repaired and painted with portraits of people from minority backgrounds — whether that’s racial, religious or sexual orientation.

Phyllis Terry, the owner of JC’S Kitchen, hopes the new graffiti will send a good message.

“I want them to still have a message of hope, a message of faith, and most of all a message of unity, that we can come together, that in the midst of hate, there still can be love,” Terry said.

Staton hopes his work will also reach the person who wrote that message back in November.

“We aren’t going to sink to their level,” he said.

Work on the mural is expected to start on the mural this spring. It’s expected to cost $12,000, and the artist and restaurant owner are about $5,000 short of that goal. They have a GoFundMe account set up.

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