“Having these two across from each other will really brighten up that area,” said Kyle Holbrook, founder and chief executive of the project, whose initials are MLK.
Holbrook and Edward Rawson, the project’s chief operating officer, had already been working with Miami Northwestern students through the Education Effect, a partnership with Florida International University, which offers a several-week long after-school program to paint murals in the school’s hallways.
Holbrook wanted to reinforce what the students had been learning by extending their art to bus shelters in the community and to showcase African-American culture, promote awareness of social issues and spread positive messages.
The artwork for the mural was created by Bernisha Fleurinor, a Northwestern senior and winner of the MLK Project art contest. The winning entry contains a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a King quote that reads, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson helped pay for both murals, offering a $100 stipend to contest-winner Fleurinor, $25 each to about half a dozen students who helped paint and money to cover other project expenses.
Edmonson said the ugly bus benches in Liberty City are a canvas for young artists and other locals to showcase their talent and bring culture into the community.
Kanarie Townsend, one of the AP art students agreed. “It brings a little more color and livelihood in Miami,” he said. Beautifying the bus shelters was a real community effort.
Holbrook had worked with Habitat for Humanity in Pittsburgh, where the MLK Project was founded, and gained the organization’s support for projects in Miami.
Miami-Dade Transit pressure-cleaned the shelter and members of Miami Bike Addicts, a local motorcycle club, also volunteered.
Sherwin-Williams, the paint company, donated paint, brushes, buckets and T-shirts for this project and several others.
Holbrook said the MLK Project hopes to paint all 77 bus shelters in Liberty City and surrounding areas over the next five years.
“If we can do 10 next year that’d be great,” he said.
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