In honor of Black history month, thought I would highlight some inspiring murals that adorn Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue.
The first highlights the contributions of four women to Atlanta. They are Selena Butler, Mathilda Beasley, Annie McPheeters, and Dorothy Thompson.
Dorothy Bolden Thompson was one of the true unsung lights of the Civil Rights movement. Employed for many years as a domestic worker (starting at the age of nine!) in Atlanta, she organized the National Domestic Workers Union, which “successfully improved the wages and working conditions of domestic workers in Atlanta, and other cities of the U.S.“. She was at one point a neighbor of Dr. Martin Luther King. I would like to think that their’s was a collaborative, mutually inspiring relationship. Ms Thompson organized successful strikes and protests to improve the lives of the women who performed the invisible, demanding, and often demeaning labor in the homes and offices of White families. Her story is to me so deeply inspiring and connecting. It is the story of the grandmothers and great-grandmothers and aunties, of the proud ladies of the church I attended as a child — the women with gnarled loving hands and unmatched fierceness and wit, the women who built and sustained a people.
Selena Butler (a graduate of Spelman College) is now considered to be the co-founder of the Parents Teachers Association — that is the PTA so ubiquitous across public schools in the United States. Concerned about the welfare of students, in the 1920’s Butler helped organize the first convention of teachers and parents united for better schools. Segregation being what it was, that first convention led to the formation of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers Association. So inspiring was her work that U.S. President Herbert Hoover appointed her to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection.
Mathilda Beasley was the first African American nun from Georgia.
Annie McPheeters was the first professional African American librarian with the Atlanta Public library. She was instrumental in developing the Auburn Avenue library and also taught library science at Georgia State University.
The second mural? That one is of Stacey Abrams who came within a percentage point of becoming Georgia’s first African American governor. Fittingly, she is giving a counter to the state of the union speech tonight (February 5th).