WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - If you live in D.C., you may have seen several of the new Black Lives Matter murals that are popping up all over the city.
Dozens of volunteers have been painting them over the past couple of weeks – including one of the biggest on 14th Street.
The Denver Smith Foundation is behind six of D.C.’s murals – and the organization is using their newfound activism as a way to provide a future for some of the most vulnerable students.
The 14th Street mural only took about two days to put up – but its meaning spans decades.
The wall is full of names – some we know, and some that are unfamiliar.
The names are linked, however, in that they’ve all lost their lives at the hands ocf police officers and the criminal justice system.
“It’s important to keep their legacy and name alive,” said Denver Terrance, of the Denver Smith Foundation. “These people who are killed by police are loved ones, fathers, mothers, daughters, grandsons.”
Terrance is the founder of the Denver Smith Foundation.
The foundation’s roots began at Louisiana Southern University in 1972.
“The protest started in the department of psychology over some disagreements over how the academics were being taught,” said Southern University graduate David Tyson.
At that school, protests began peaceful enough, but soon guns were drawn.
In the morning, Louisiana State Police and local Sheriff’s Deputies fired tear gas into the crowd of protesters.
In the midst of the mayhem, two bodies were found on the ground, Leonard Brown and Denver Smith.
“I could physically see one of the bodies of the students laying on the ground,” Tyson said.
Subsequent reports from an official coroner found the cause of death to be buckshot shells that hit two of the students in the head.
Reports also determined that the shots, in fact, came from one of the sheriff’s deputies.
Terrance says he feels the shot even today.
“Denver Smith is my uncle. He was a student at Southern university in 1972,” Terrance said.
Terrance was named for his uncle – who through research was found to be one of the first unarmed black men shot by police on camera.
“It helped me understand some of the pain and the hurt and mourning I saw in my grandmother and I still see in my mom and uncle,” Terrance said.
No arrests were ever made in connection with Smith’s shooting death.
Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards said, “It is obvious there are discrepancies and questions – even if someone accidentally took a buckshot shell out of his pocket and loaded it and shot it – he would not be able to tell himself afterward whether he had done it
Smith – like so many other names – was once lost in the catalogues of history.
Terrance hopes that, on 14th Street, one could only hope for his name and so many others to once again be heard.
“We don’t plan to stop, as long as there’s an opportunity, we’re going to continue finding those opportunities,” Terrance said.
The Denver Smith Foundation currently gives scholarships to students who are the most vulnerable.
There are 150 names on the wall on 14th Street.