The title of this mural, which comes from a poem written by Joplin native Langston Hughes, not only captures the essence of this work but also describes the process of its creation. Hundreds of residents from our city’s diverse East Town lent their time - and hands - to this project, from collaborating on its content and design to helping paint the final images in the mural. The images represent East Town’s history and evolution and the citizens who strive to keep its stories alive. This mural depicts the development of East Town, Joplin’s only historic African American neighborhood, and the figures in the mural were inspired by Betty Smith, Buddie Mitchell, Melissa Cuther, Marion Dial, Clovis Steele, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The magnolia flowers and hummingbirds symbolize graceful endurance.
The mural was painted by Kyle McKenzie, assisted by Devon Estes, Jenny Journeycake, Aaron Skapik, and many proud East Town residents. This mural is the sixth Art in Public Places Project initiated by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Cultural Affairs Committee.