Downtown Black History & Performing Arts Mural I 2022
Kansas City-based artist Alexander Austin captures the likenesses of prominent figures in Black history and the performing arts in this mural, located at First and Main Streets in downtown Joplin. Current-day saxophonist Charles McPherson, born in Joplin, is featured on the right side of the mural; other Joplin-born figures in the mural are poet and writer Langston Hughes and singer, author, teacher, and community activist Melissa Fuell Cuther. In 1951, Fuell Cuther founded Carver Nursery School, the first preschool for Black children in Joplin, and was later instrumental in the grassroots movement to establish George Washing Carver National Monument. The image of Lincoln School is featured on the bottom left of the mural; founded in 1908, this was the only school for Black primary and secondary students in Joplin. The words Joplin Uplift, which appear in the center of the mural, refer to the name of a Black-owned newspaper started in 1926 for Joplin's Black community.
Other historical icons in the performing arts community that are featured in the mural include Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Mamie Smith, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Ella Johnson, Marion Anderson, Scott Joplin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. These esteemed Black artists and activists each visited Joplin during a time of racial inequality in America.
Downtown Black History & Performing Arts Mural I 2022102 S. Main Street
Joplin, Missouri 64801