Art Community

Mural honors African American women educators

The day after her 108th birthday Ruth Crawford received a special honor.

Ruth Crawford celebrated her 108th birthday on May 25. She was honored May 26 at the ribbon cutting for a new mural in the Golden Blocks. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

The longtime educator and founder of the Shiloh Community Center attended the May 26 ribbon cutting for a mural paying tribute to her and five other female educators in Augusta’s African American community.

Crawford thanked those attending the ceremony and said “all the silver and gold” didn’t mean as much as people being at Friday’s event.

The Women of Empowerment mural, the latest in a series on public art pieces designed to promote the history of the area known as The Golden Blocks, honors Ursula Collins, Marjorie Carter, Louise Laney, Rosa T. Beard, Rosa C. Tutt and Ruth Crawford. It’s painted on the side of The Lucky Spot on 1119 James Brown Blvd., which celebrated its grand opening on the same day.

 “This mural is not just a mural. It’s an opportunity to connect with the subjects and celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions,” said Salonika Rhyne, who painted the mural.

The project is spearheaded by the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and the Greater Augusta Arts Council.

 Other Golden Blocks; murals include one by Xavier Jones near the Laney-Walker and James Brown Boulevard intersections, one on the Wallace Branch Library on Laney Walker with a map of the area and one on the former Pilgrim Health and Life Insurance Co.

“Public art allows a city and its people to express their visions creatively in public spaces,” said Pax Bobrow, arts council project manager. “The arts connect people at the deepest emotional, spiritual level, and when artists and historians get together to tell our communal stories in public spaces then our history comes alive.”

Bobrow said she was tasked with encouraging the growth of public art in Augusta several years ago, and the Golden Blocks was always part of the plan. Dennis Skelly, the council’s vice president of public art, “convinced our board to put $5,000 into a public art project,” she said.

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From there, the city through housing and community development matched the $5,000, and the National Endowment for the Arts matched the combined $10,000.

“And it’s kept going,” she said.

It doesn’t look like it will stop any time soon.

 Corey Rogers, executive director of the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History who emceed the ceremony, announced that a second mural will be placed on another of The Lucky Spot’s walls, but Bobrow said that project is still in its early stages.  A plan for it and a call for artists has not yet been decided.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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