When you walk by the Black United Fund’s building at 28th and NE Alberta you can’t miss noticing a recently completed 25 x 100 ft mural that swirls across its west side facing wall. The vibrant mural honors iconic women of the civil rights movement.
Vox Siren, a Creative Change Agency that focuses on promoting gender equity and ArtUprising, a non-profit that connects artists and non-profit organizations working to dismantle institutional oppression partnered with the Black United Fund of Oregon on the mural.
The Black United Fund of Oregon is the only black-owned, community specific nonprofit that operates and owns its building and property on Alberta Street. The organization’s mission is to assist in the social and economic development of Oregon’s low-income communities and to contribute to a broader understanding of ethnic and culturally diverse groups.
Kimberlee Sheng, the Executive Director of Black United Fund provided leadership in the creative design said, “As a child growing up the women depicted on this mural were major inspirations in life; they embodied the vision I held for myself, and the determination that was required to create real and lasting change.”
Artists Eatcho and Jeremy Nichols collaborated on the mural that features historical figures of Coretta Scott King, Ruby Bridges, Ruby Dee, Angela Davis, and Maya Angelou. “These women, along with countless others- some who will never be named, opened many doors of opportunity for both women and men, and have had a tremendous impact on how communities of color navigate “systems” of inequity,” Sheng said.
There is another important person represented in the mural: a young girl stands below the image of Maya Angelou and reflects on her predecessors. She represents a generation boldly ready to continue the legacy of powerful leadership. Sheng said, “In our more than 30-years of operation, the organization has always been lead by women therefore it is fitting that this mural would pay tribute to a few of the iconic black women of the civil rights movement. Upholding a beacon of hope for all, these historical women stood alongside our brothers and numerous communities involved in the struggle, just as we still do today.”
The mural was supported by the Public Arts Murals Program, administered by Regional Arts and Culture Council. Watch a video “A Voice to be Thankful For” created by Vox Siren about the mural.
There’s more murals to come for the building. Alberta Art Works, an organization that supports the neighborhood’s art, artists, performers and creatives, commissioned six 8 x 8 foot murals for the building’s Alberta Street side.