Kansas City, Mo, has a considerable number of murals. One of my favorites is at Troost Ave. and Linwood Blvd., an intersection I pass through frequently. This once thriving area of town became a war zone when Dr. King was murdered in April of 1968. It has been economically depressed for most of the years since and efforts are now being made to revive the area.
I have done work for a program called the "First Step Fund" that helps disadvantaged people work through the process of doing a feasibility plans for business ideas they have. Alexander Austin is the artist who painted the mural and he was a student in one of the classes I assisted. It was a privilege to meet him.
Alexander painted a Beautiful murial in 1994 which was demolished not long after for a freeway. You can see a picture of it at Urban Totems (Go to the bottom and it is the sixth picture up.) Urban Totems writes:
There were several new tributes to Dr. King, including C. Siddha Sila's Have a Dream (1995) in Chicago and Alexander Austin's Go For Your Dream (1994) in Kansas City, Missouri. Austin's self-sponsored wall was an effort to counteract inner-city violence with a tribute to a champion of nonviolence. The artist began with only several gallons of paint and set up a sign saying "Accepting Donations" to solicit community support. He says that this type of work lifted him from homelessness: he was asking for donations but giving back at the same time. The mural was up for only a short time before the city began to tear it down for a highway extension that had been under discussion for ten years but never acted upon. In addition to showing a range of expressions from King's "I Have a Dream" speech it told the story of the artist's homelessness and his commitment to finally acting on his potential as an artist. Austin had channeled the communal spirit of early murals into autobiography and a message of personal transformation. His concept was to tell people not to be afraid to pursue their dreams.
Alexander painted the mural at the top in 1995. It used to have a panel about the 1963 "March on Washington" in the bottom panel.
He recently added the Rosa Parks panels (see the first photo) in honor of the 50th Anniversary of her famous bus ride. Also, the Kansas City Star recently did an article on Alexander, Artist’s addition is a tribute to Rosa Parks.
I wanted to use today's post to salute Alexander Austin' salute to MLK and the dreams he has inspired.