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Why some Atlanta artists are changing their murals amid pandemic

Artists paint masks on their Atlanta murals

With coronavirus hitting Black communities harder, these artists want residents to take precautions

Colin Kaepernick is once again bringing attention to a sometimes unpopular topic. Sort of.

A mural of Kaepernick, painted by artist Fabian Williams at the corner of Peeples Street and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, now wears a face mask.

A Mural is painted on a building at the corner of Ralph D Abernathy Boulevard and Peeples Street in Atlanta, June 30, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
A Mural is painted on a building at the corner of Ralph D Abernathy Boulevard and Peeples Street in Atlanta, June 30, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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But don’t worry, the art wasn’t defaced. It was “de-faced,” by Williams himself.

Williams also added a mask to his mural of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Mural is painted on a building at the corner of Ralph D Abernathy Boulevard and Peeples Street in Atlanta, June 30, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
A Mural is painted on a building at the corner of Ralph D Abernathy Boulevard and Peeples Street in Atlanta, June 30, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Why? To remind residents of the importance of wearing a face mask in public during the coronavirus pandemic.

There is mounting evidence that African Americans are being hit much harder during the pandemic.

"This is a small act to make people realize that we need to be covering our mouths and nose to make sure we don't spread the disease more than it already has," Williams told Fox 5 News.

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Williams is just one of several Atlanta street artists spreading the message as part of the Big Facts, Small Acts COVID-19 Awareness & Prevention Campaign. Big Facts, Small Acts is "a grassroots, arts-based, multi-media campaign aimed at educating Atlanta's vulnerable black and brown communities on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19."

Writer and producer Sherri Daye Scott gathered Tracy Murrell, Williams, Fahamu Pecou and other artist friends to start Big Facts, Small Acts.

The group’s website has CDC-vetted information and artists have placed signs and murals around black communities, reminding people to stay vigilant.

"There is a lot of misinformation in social media. We have to do better," Scott told AJC reporter Ernie Suggs in May.

Artist Dubelyoo is also one of those artist friends. He masked his “Fearless” mural.

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The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and now the World Health Organization — recommend wearing a face covering in public when it's not possible to stay 6 feet apart.

A cloth mask should cover both your nose and mouth. Before putting on your mask, the World Health Organization recommends, wash your hands or sanitize them with alcohol.