Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Shutterstock

In addition to approving the mural project, the city also renamed the area Black Lives Matter Plaza. The local Black Lives Matter chapter, however, on Twitter, called the mayor’s actions a stunt and “a performative distraction from real policy changes.” Representatives of the mayor and Black Lives Matter DC didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Several cities across the country painted similar sentiments on city streets.

In Los Angeles, the words “All Black Lives Matter” were painted on a section of Hollywood Boulevard the day before a march in support of the Black LGBTQ+ community and protesting racial injustice.

In Austin, Texas, two groups—Austin Justice Coalition, which advocates on criminal-justice issues, and Capitol View Arts, which supports local black artists—came together to create two murals. They decided to paint “Black Austin Matters” along Congress Avenue leading to the Texas Capitol, and “Black Artists Matter” along 11th Street, once the heart of the black community’s entertainment district during segregation.

The groups saw it as an assertion of the black community’s significance at a time when gentrification is driving many black people away, and a recognition of the role of art in social movements, said Ishia Lynette, director of communications for Austin Justice Coalition.

Christopher Lee for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Lynette said she understood the blowback the Black Lives Matter mural in Washington generated, given that it came at the direction of the government. In Austin, some black residents questioned the value of murals in redressing social injustice, she said. Many others expressed support, she said, seeing the murals as a way of keeping pressure on city officials.

“Every part of a movement matters,” Ms. Lynette said. “Back in the civil rights movement, art was a way people expressed themselves.”

In Brooklyn, N.Y, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the block would become a pedestrian-only area during summer months.

In Tulsa, Okla., the painting of the mural began on the night of June 18 along Greenwood Avenue in the Greenwood District, known as “Black Wall Street.” It was completed by the following morning in time for the city’s Juneteenth celebration.

Shane Brown for The Wall Street Journal

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Photos:

Maxar Technologies (Washington, D.C.,Oakland, Calif.), Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images (Atlanta), Walter G. Arce/Grindstone Media/Zuma Press (Charlotte, N.C.), Christian Monterrosa /EPA/Shutterstock (Los Angeles, Calif.), Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/Associated Press (Austin, Texas), David Ryder/Getty Images (Seattle), Jake May/The Flint Journal/Associated Press (Flint, Mich.), John Minchillo/Associated Press (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Lawrence Bryant/Reuters (Tulsa, Okla.)

Dylan Moriarty contributed to this project.

Read More