Zalik and Jay'da Fisher love to play with chalk. So when their mother, Mieka, saw a post in their Baltimore neighborhood group suggesting they come together to paint "Black Lives Matter" on a street to show support for the movement, she had another plan.
"Because my children love chalk so much, I thought it was a great idea, instead of waiting on the city to approve the paint, we could go out and go ahead and do the chalk thing," Mieka Fisher said. "So I talked it over with my neighbors and everybody was open and willing to join."
About 15 people gathered Thursday on the 300 block of South Madeira Street in Upper Fells Point to write the slogan in chalk. After the words were outlined in all caps with blue painters tape, 11-year-old Zalik, 10-year-old Jay'da and a collection of neighbors filled them in with various colors of chalk, covering half the block.
Black Lives Matter has become a common refrain amid nationwide protests, including in Baltimore, following the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, both of whom were black. In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser had the words painted on 16th Street leading up to the White House — inspiring similar street art across the country, including on Madeira Street.
To Zalik, the message is clear.
"They mean that really we do matter and we need simple equality," he said.
Zalik Fisher, 11, sits on his front steps on S. Madeira Street with his mother Mieka and dog Bellah after celebrating his 5th grade graduation from Wolfe Street Academy. Zalik, his sister and several neighbors created a half-block long chalk Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of his home. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)
Mieka Fisher said she doesn't want her children to have to grow up in fear because of their race.
"I have a black son that is 11 years old, so I feel like it's a big deal for him to understand and get a concept of exactly what's going on in the world today," she said. "Because I have a black son, it's a big deal for me. Especially with everything that's going on right now, I don't ever want him to feel afraid to be out there in the world because of the color of his skin. He has to be careful and look over his shoulders at all times, so I was just trying to get him to understand how important he is."
Zalik and Jay'da are the only black children on their block, and Fisher said her neighbors always have been supportive whenever she has needed them to be. Thursday was just another example.
Their help in putting "Black Lives Matter" on the street for all to see shows "that other people care, too," Zalik said.
"It was fun," he said. "We had a lot of people out of there to help."