Get the details behind one of the newest landmarks in the nation’s capital
A two-block section of street that welcomes pedestrians year-round, Black Lives Matter Plaza adds to Washington, DC's long list of sights rooted in the fight for racial equality. Learn more about the plaza before your next visit, from its origin story to its place in history.
What It Looks Like
Black Lives Matter Plaza street sign. 📸: Julia Mouketo
The street mural stretches 50 feet wide across two blocks. 📸: IG/@syang
The mural sits near St. John's Episcopal Church. 📸: IG/@breton9
The plaza is pedestrian-friendly. 📸: IGemail@example.com
Where is Black Lives Matter Plaza?
Located along a two-block area of 16th Street NW in Downtown DC, the mural features the words “Black Lives Matter” in 50-foot-tall letters, in yellow and all caps, as well as the flag of the District.
The portion of 16th Street on which the mural is showcased, located just outside of the White House, was officially renamed by Mayor Muriel Bowser as “Black Lives Matter Plaza NW.” The area is open to visitors on-foot at any time of the day, as the center of the plaza remains separated from traffic.
The nearest Metro station is McPherson Square, on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.
What’s it like to visit?
Due to its unveiling in a time of heightened political tension and as an outcry against police brutality, Black Lives Matter Plaza continues to attract demonstrations from all political factions.
A public gathering place, BLM Plaza is open to foot traffic, allowing for future visitors to reflect on the words emblazoned on the street, as well as the powerful protests that have taken place there in its short history.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser
"There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognized. We had that opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city."
What’s the story behind the mural?
Nationwide protests against police brutality, spurred on by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, took place throughout the summer of 2020 and served as the inspiration for Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Beginning in late-May, thousands of peaceful protesters took to the streets of DC to join in the outcry. On June 1, 2020, peaceful demonstrators – many of whom were from DC – were met with violence and tear gas by federal forces between Lafayette Park and St. John’s Church, near the current site of the plaza.
Four days later, the Black Lives Matter mural was unveiled across the plaza where protesters had gathered, commissioned by Mayor Bowser and completed by the DC Public Works Department with the assistance of the MuralsDC program.
Bowser also announced the official renaming of the segment of 16th Street NW, which was made permanent by the DC City Council in October 2020.
Learn more about Black history and culture in DC
Discover "Chocolate City" through go-go music and Black businesses, experience important civil rights history at Frederick Douglass's estate and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and so much more.