By Connor Ciecko
The City of Champaign installed new street signs on Wednesday designating Chester Street between Neil and Walnut downtown as “Honorary Street Black Lives Matter.” Chester Street is located directly next to the Champaign City building.
The new sign is larger than other Champaign street signs, measuring at 12 by 48 inches instead of the nine by 36 that the signs usually are. The style of the sign is also visually distinct from the others by having yellow text positioned on a black background.
The newest honorary street designation signs went up today, designating Chester Street between Neil Street and Walnut Street as Honorary Street Black Lives Matter.Posted by City of Champaign – Municipal Government on Wednesday, March 24, 2021
The decision to change the signs was made in a March 16th city council meeting and was met to a 7-0 YES vote by those present.
While all members were in support of the new signs, Councilwomen Clarissa Nickerson Fourman and Alicia Beck felt that the city could be doing more to help the Black community rather than just making a gesture.
“Although I still feel this is a slap in the face to what we could have done for people, I’d like to give the city staff a shoutout for taking the time to change the sign so it’s not the boring, brown-colored paper-bag sign,” Fourman said at the meeting.
Councilwoman Beck shared in that sentiment, saying that simply hanging a sign is lacking the genuine help and support that the City could be providing to the community. Mayor Feinen also expressed her agreement that the City can improve the work that it is doing to promote social justice.
Chester Street was a point of discussion last fall as a potential location for a Black Lives Matter mural. The council ultimately voted NO to that in January with a 5-4 vote, with the NOs saying that the money could be better spent performing actual work and making a more lasting impact rather than making a gesture.