Drake Community Repaints Painted Street, Starts New Traditions

DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Friday, Drake University students, faculty and staff returned Painted Street to its traditional look, painting over the black that was painted on as part of the “Paint it Black” project in November of last year.

The project came about after students received racist notes and robo calls.

Even though they are repainting the street as part of the old tradition, they are starting a new tradition by keeping a section of Painted Street black from now on.

Organizers of “Paint it Black” and those who helped facilitate it said they aren’t really sad that the majority of the street won't be black anymore, and they are proud of the progress that stemmed from the project.

“Students in different ways have re-committed themselves to that and made a commitment to social justice in the actions that they do and the events that they plan and in the conversations they have. And so I see the campus shifting definitely to a place where we as a community are committed to social justice in many different forms and that's something that will continue to work on and educate ourselves upon and build upon,” said Giada Morresi, vice president of student activities for the Drake Senate.

Many of them say in the months since they painted the street black, more diversity and inclusion initiatives for both students and staff are continuing to move forward.

“We can put up monuments. We can paint streets, but I think at the end of the day, people are really going to remember the student response and the response from student leaders. I think that gave people a lot more confidence to go out and attack a lot of these issues about race, about identity, about minorities here on campus. So I think that's what people will remember the most is the student response and how people reacted,” Paint it Black Organizer Timothy Gant said.

By repainting a section black on Saturday at 1 p.m., they hope to renew the commitment to equity and inclusion for all.

“There are students and faculty who say things that aren’t always the most appropriate or most compassionate towards students of color, students of different ethnicities on this campus and religions, and I think that it’s important that that circle and that all the events of last semester aren’t forgotten because, again, they do have an impact on our students, and every students on this campus deserves to feel like they have a home here and deserve to feel like they’re safe here,” Paint it Black Organizer Morgan Coleman said.

Event details for the Paint it Black Renewal Ceremony can be found here.

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