The Bank of America corporate center and Duke Energy Center will light uptown Charlotte this weekend in honor of Juneteenth, thanks to local activist Brittany Moore.
Beginning at sunset on Friday, the Bank of America building will glow in red, black and green to acknowledge colors of the Pan-African flag. The top of the Duke Energy building will display green, gold and red the following evening.
Moore was inspired to do something after visiting the Black Lives Matter street mural in uptown Charlotte. It gave her chills to witness each artist’s interpretation of the Black Lives Matter movement painted on the 16-letter phrase. She petitioned the city to continue showing solidarity by celebrating Juneteenth, a June 19 holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in America.
“I was just so excited and proud of my city,” said Moore, a North Carolina ambassador for the United State of Women, “and it kind of sparked this energy to say if we can paint the street in uptown with Black Lives Matter and block it off, then we should be able to light up the city.”
Last Thursday, Moore sent a letter to the city council and was directed to officials in charge of lighting each building. The process was quick; it only took a day for officials to approve her requests. She said people are paying attention to Juneteenth, even if they don’t fully understand its significance.
She explained that acknowledging Juneteenth on Friday and Saturday is a way to keep the momentum of resistance going as nationwide protests against police brutality continue in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd was an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis whose death was captured on video last month as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds.
Moore contends that every race recognizing Juneteenth, in this climate, will further show community support and empathy for the Black community who still deals with the repercussions of slavery.
While some argue that the Pan-African flag can be exclusive, Moore disagrees. The flag gives her a sense of pride and a reminder of what her ancestors experienced.
“It’s more of a symbol of freedom and perseverance,” she said. “Juneteenth and the flag and what it represents isn’t just for the Black people. When you think about the Underground Railroad, and all the things you had back in those times, we had help. We weren’t by ourselves.”
Moore is working to ensure the Charlotte lights recognize Juneteenth each year. She has time to focus since her work with United State of Women — the sister organization to Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote — slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel like I’m being heard … this has never happened before,” she said. “I’m excited for the moment, but I want to make it permanent.”
Catch the lights
Friday at sunset (8:41 p.m.) at Bank of America Corporate Center, 100 N. Tryon St.
Saturday at sunset (8:41 p.m.) at the Duke Energy Center, 550 S. Tryon St.