DENVER (CBS4) – A line that once marked segregation in Denver has now been revived as an art project meant to bring the community together. However, some think it has the opposite effect.
The lines down Keith Hammock’s alley mark a spot he didn’t know was there — the border dividing where black families could live in Denver.
“I see it from my bedroom window, every time I go out, every week to empty the trash I have to be reminded of the racial color line … It’s annoying,” said Hammock.
The city gave $7,000 to repaint the demarcation line that kept black families from living in homes east of it until the 1950s. Hammock was unaware of its ugly history until it was repainted behind his house.
“It’s just a daily reminder. Why be reminded everyday of that?” he said.
Darrell Watson helped draft the plan for painting the lines.
“The whole premise of this project is to bring the neighborhood together on the sensitive topic about race. It’s not to create a process that’s divisive or brings people apart,” said Watson.
A year ago dozens of residents in the Whittier neighborhood received threatening letters that said blacks and Jews weren’t welcome. The lines were painted as part of a public art project connecting murals of respect and historic markers about the residents who fought to integrate the area.
A boarder dividing “us and them” is exactly what the project intended to avoid, so the neighborhood may now look for a different way to show how racism was stamped out.
The project managers said they will stop painting the line at the moment and get more community input. They may replace the line with footsteps to show that people here stand together against racism.