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Tensions ease at 'Unity Wall' in Lake Worth Beach

Community comes together to work out differences
Tensions ease at "Unity Wall" in Lake Worth Beach
Posted at 4:49 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-23 16:49:49-05

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — A section of Lake Worth Beach's freshly restored "Unity Wall" has already gotten a bit of a makeover.

READ MORE FROM WPTV NEWSCHANNEL 5: The history of the "Unity Wall"

Schoolteacher Brent Bludword and teen volunteers from Lake Worth High School began painting the Unity Wall last Saturday. The committee approved what students submitted to be depicted on one section of the wall.

Adorning the wall are civial rights activist "Fredrick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Obama, and John Lewis," said wall artist and high school teacher Brent Bludworth.

"So [the students] had originally gave me a message that says, 'All Lives Matter'. And it wasn't... perfect. We didn't think it was going to be something that was controversial, but it was," admitted Bludworth.

"The thought behind [the phrase] was just inclusivity and unity," said Carmelle Marcelin Chapman from Healthier Lake Worth Beach, she helps execute the wall's committee's plans.

Instantly there was a backlash from some members of the community. The Palm Beach Post reported that Bishop Melvin Pinkney of New Life Zion Temple in Lake Worth Beach, who led two Black Lives Matter protests last year outside City Hall said, "Until Black lives matter, how are you going to put 'All Lives Matter' up there?"

Retha Lowe, former Lake Worth Beach Vice Mayor and wall organizer said, "I guess everybody was concerned about the picture I chose to put on the wall and [the committee] agreed [to paint it]."

"It is offensive because the phrase was used in the retaliation of the Black Lives Matter [movement]," said Marcelin Chapman.

She says the "All Lives Matter" text wasn't supposed to divide, "It was about a community coming together."

As tensions rose Lowe said, "They threatened the teacher who painted the picture."

"[The teacher] didn't have anything to do with it. He was doing it under the direction of the community," said Marcelin Chapman.

Members of the "Unity Wall" committee said they think this wall's theme should be unity. But they don't think it should have the words "Black lives matter" on it either because they say, that too is divisive.

"You have to meet in the middle," said Bludworth.

"We sat down, we talked about it, I agreed, take it down. We don't want to cause any confusion we want to unite us not divide us," Lowe said.

So Bludworth had an idea, "Hey, this design that [the wall committee] gave me, I'd like to change it."

The "Unity Wall" now adorned with the word of its namesake, Unity.

"It actually ended up being a better design, a better message. The message got lost in the old one," Bludworth said.

Artists and volunteers will come to the wall for the next seven Saturdays to add the finishing touches to it. You can sign up to volunteer or to paint by e-mailing carmelle.lakeworth@htpbc.org.