Public Art Mixes with the History of our Nation’s Famous Women

Aug 07, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Located on the corner of West 54th Street and Mullen Avenue in Los Angeles is an example of how public art mixes with history.

On the side of the National Council of Negro Women’s (NCNW) building is a colorful mural featuring marvelous women from America’s past.

In 1991, Alice Patrick painted, “Women do get Weary, But They Don’t Give Up.” Measuring 9′ x 16′, the large public mural has, over the years, lost some of its color, but it speaks to a history long to be remembered.

Seated in the front row are educator Dr. Mary McCleod Bethune, who, in 1935, founded NCNW, and Dr. Dorothy Height, who was the President of NCNW for 40 years, and in 1994 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Also seated are several other women who represent the hundreds of NCNW members who changed history.

The next generation of women, standing in the back, who benefited from the determination and bravery of the seated generation, are entertainer Josephine Baker, an American expatriate entertainer and actress, who, in the early 1950s, refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States, TV personality Oprah Winfrey (need I say more), jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan (enough said), and Olympic runner Florence Griffith Joyner, is considered the "fastest woman in the world" because she still holds the world record for both the 100 meters and 200 meters, both set in 1988 Olympic Games.

And all of this history was captured in only one mural which is a testament to the storytelling of this unique medium and art.

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