A new mural that will be created in the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District will tell the stories and history of the Black, Latino and Native American people who live and have lived in the Topeka community.
The multicultural mural was announced Wednesday morning at Topeka Habitat for Humanity, 121 N.E. Gordon, where the mural will be painted on the west side of the building.
A date hasn’t been set for when painting will begin, but organizers are anticipating a start date in the spring.
Glenda Washington, chief equity and opportunity officer for the Greater Topeka Partnership, said the mural will be divided into panels with each depicting a different race’s history.
“You’ll see the mid 1800s when the African Americans began to come to the community, you will see some history about the Exodusters,” Washington said.
The mural will also tell the history of Brown v. Board of Education and notable individuals who helped build the African American community, Washington added.
“What we want to do is be able to tell the story of the African American community, the Latinx community and also the Native American community,” Washington said. “They will have similar stories on that wall. We hope that these are living murals (and) that as history changes so you will see them added to this mural.”
Topeka Councilwoman Christina Valdivia-Alcala said she is looking forward to seeing the mural come to life. As a former director of an arts and culture organization, she understands the healing powers of art, she said.
“I would just say that I hope the best for this mural,” Valdivia-Alcala said. “I think there are some very exciting parts about histories of underserved and marginalized communities in this city that need to be told. Though we may be marginalized communities, it doesn’t mean that we do not have a seat at the table. It does not mean that we do not have the right to call for just and humane reform of any type, no matter what it may be. We are here, we are citizens, we are taxpayers and so we deserve the same rights.”
Jacob Wamego, president and CEO of Prairie Band LLC, said it is good to know that a mural will showcase a variety of different cultures, including his.
“Even though where our headquarters is located 15 minutes north, we still consider ourselves a part of this community,” Wamego said. “A lot of our tribal citizens live here, a lot of folks that work in our enterprises come from this area. So a chance to share a little bit of our culture, a little bit of our history — we appreciate that inclusion.
“This is a tough time and we know we have a lot of work to do, but this is just a small piece of the work. It’s a step that I think will help. From Prairie Band’s view, we embrace that sharing, that equity that we want for all of the people in this community and all across the country.”
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