News Flash

Carrboro Town News

Posted on: September 30, 2021

New Mural Honors African-American Community Leaders

Artist with Trailblazers Mural

Local community organizations are excited to announce the completion of a new mural honoring Black civic leaders from Carrboro and Chapel Hill. 

Painted by artist Kiara Sanders, the African American Trailblazers mural celebrates twelve people who helped to shape and improve our community. The mural is located where Carrboro and Chapel Hill meet, at 111 S. Merritt Mill Road, home to two Black-owned businesses: Walt’s Grill and Ms. Molly’s Gift Shop.

Artist with Trailblazers Mural The mural features 12 African American pioneers who were vital to Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s history. (Photo credit: Miriam McSpadden/Fly Squirrel Films)

Honorees include (left to right in mural):

  • Valerie Paige Foushee, North Carolina State Senator
  •  Addie Robinson, director and founder of Holmes Day Care at Hargraves Community Center
  • Nurse Adelia Compton, the first Black employee for the Town of Chapel Hill
  • Barbara Booth Powell, Chapel Hill Town Council, educator, and politician
  • Bynum & Susie Weaver, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs
  • Howard Lee, the only Black mayor of Chapel Hill and the first Black mayor in the South
  • William D. Peerman, championship winning coach, mentor, and educator and the first Black head football coach at Chapel Hill High School
  • Rev. Dr. J.R. Manley, former pastor of the Rock Hill-First Baptist and Hickory Grove Baptist Church and community leader
  • Walter Riggsbee, HVAC builder and entrepreneur
  • Dr. L.H. Hackney, pastor and founder of the first Black high school
  • Thurman Atkins, developer and entrepreneur

Mural artist Kiara Sanders is a recent art studies graduate from North Carolina Central University and is known for several art projects around the Triangle, including the new Art + Transit bus stop on Rogers Road. Sanders was selected for this work based on her project concept and aesthetic, which was influenced by the regal color palates often used in murals by Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas.

Over several weeks, Sanders primed, prepped, and finetuned each portrait to most accurately reflect images of the honorees. At one point, the wall was covered entirely in numbers as a method to transpose each image to scale. Sanders wanted to make sure the community would be inspired to learn more when they came across the art. 

“It’s an honor to be able to tap into this history, “ Sanders said. “You can come across this work and look at the faces and wonder to yourself ‘Who is that?’ and then that can start a whole new conversation about how we introduce people who paved the way for us to live and thrive.”

The community is invited to help keep history alive by engaging with the African American Trailblazers project: 

  • Visit the mural at 111 S. Merritt Mill Road 
  • Watch the Video (by Miriam McSpadden/Fly Squirrel Films) about Kiara Sanders and her work on the project at https://youtu.be/y_UoZFpnEGI
    The video is available in the Town of Carrboro's Celebrating Black America playlist. 
  • Learn more about each individual leader by exploring biographies and photographs available at chapelhillhistory.org/aatrailblazers

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