Early Saturday morning, February 21, the African, Latin, Asian and Native American Cultural Center and family embarked on an artistic and creative journey together. The center floor of the Multi-Purpose Room at the ALANA Cultural Center was covered in plastic sheets, the tables were prepped with large 8″x 4″ panels and the smell of 20 acrylic paints occupied the room. Students, faculty, staff and other members of the community constructed a mural in honor of Black History Month.
The project took flight with the vision of Director of the ALANA Cultural Center Thomas Cruz-Soto, Programming Coordinator Shevorne Martin and Office Coordinator Makiko Filler. Juls Buehrer of Career Services and Matt Halm, a professional muralist and designer from Allentown, Pennsylvania were instrumental in designing the mural. Buehrer and Halm embraced the tenets of the cultural center and channeled it into the vibrant colors and abstract designs.
From left to right, the images are of Shirley Chisholm, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Zora Neale Hurston. In 1968, Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to Congress and became the first black candidate for President of the United States (1972). Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States. Obama became the first African American president on January 20, 2009. King is recognized as a prominent leader and activist in the civil rights movement. King is well known for non-violent approach to change and his legacy lives on in a nationally recognized holiday. Hurston was one of the most inspiring African American writers, folklorists and authors during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Her 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, continues to be one of the more influential texts of the American literary canon.
Participants volunteered their time on a Saturday morning to express their emotions through painting powerful and inspirational black men and women who have influenced American history and culture. Volunteers included seniors Mabel Haro, Jaleith Gary, Gabby Barrow; first-years Alex Restrepo, Yvett Sosa, Matteo Ramos-Mucci; sophomore Medvis Jackson; Outreach Programming Coordinator Vanessa Lopera; Jordan, Jared and Troy Henderson, Makiko and son Matthew Filler, COVE Director Ingrid Hale and daughter, Katrina, and brother and sister, Jaime Nagle and Ryan Nagle.
The mural will be displayed and mounted in ALANA Cultural Center for a period of time. The goal is for the mural to become a traveling exhibit that can be showcased in other areas of the campus, Hamilton Central and other venues. The purpose is to share cultures and promote reflection through a piece that speaks to our entire community.