1-on-1 with Reginald Adams, artist of ‘Black Mt. Rushmore’ mural
The latest mural outside the breakfast klub, known as 'The Black Mount Rushmore' by nationally-acclaimed local artist Reginald Adams. Photo by Aswad Walker

Though the breakfast klub is nationally known as one of the top breakfast spots in the country, it may be equally appreciated for owner Marcus Davis’ commitment to showcase works by Black artists since day one. These paintings are not only inside the restaurant, but outside, as well, with ever-changing masterpieces displayed for the world to see.

Case in point: the powerful George Floyd mural has now been replaced by what many have unofficially named the Black Mount Rushmore, the work of nationally acclaimed local artist Reginald Adams.

The Defender spoke with Adams about his latest masterpiece.

DEFENDER: Regarding the latest mural outside The Breakfast Klub, I’ve heard it referred to as the “Black Mount Rushmore.” Is that the mural’s official name?

REGINALD ADAMS: Our newest mural at the breakfast klub is unofficially titled Black Mount Rushmore. We haven’t Come up with anything better yet.

DEFENDER: What was the inspiration behind the mural?

Reginald Adams

ADAMS: The inspiration for this mural was really triggered by a question that I received from a group of high school students from a Houston-area private school. These students reached out to me and asked if they could interview me about the mural of George Floyd because they were doing a Black History Month project on Black leaders. That request just kind of sat with me. I didn’t think a whole lot of it. But while I didn’t oblige the request for the interview, I never forgot the question. And a few weeks later, Marcus Davis reached out and he wanted to change the current mural.

DEFENDER: Do you and Marcus have a history of working together?

ADAMS: The history between Marcus, the breakfast klub and myself is well over a decade old. We were presented with the opportunity to use that outer wall facing Alabama as a canvas. So, there’s actually five murals that are on that wall that we just keep mounting over with a new mural every time the opportunity avails.

DEFENDER: So, how did this conversation move to give birth to this latest mural?

ADAMS: So, I see Marcus one day and ask him what was the impetus for wanting to change the mural? And interestingly enough, the same students had asked him the same question. And it, I think made him realize that perhaps there was an opportunity to really put before the public historic Black leaders. The students’ request really didn’t resonate. I didn’t see Floyd in that light. And I don’t want to take away anything that happened at that time, and the part he played in bringing attention to social justice and police brutality. But he did not define himself in my interpretation as a historic Black leader. So, that was a little bit of a red flag in a sense. And I think that same question rubbed Marcus in a way where he felt if people were going to be looking at that wall in that light, why don’t we put before them proven, historic Black leadership. And we started just talking about what could that be and who does he see? And he started naming these names. And these are people that I’ve studied in my own learning journey of life. And I said, “Man, that sounds like Black Mount Rushmore.” And as I said it, his eyes lit up. I think we both knew that we were on to something, to find figures who could be seen in that light like Mount Rushmore, and think about four founders of Black culture in the United States. And that’s where Marcus Garvey, WEB DuBois, Carter G. Woodson and Booker T. Washington came into play. And that’s how that mural came to life.

DEFENDER: So, the message you wanted this mural to make was giving the public a view of foundational Black leadership?

ADAMS: That’s correct. I mean, lot of even educated Blacks don’t know the significance of the excellence that these men displayed. I mean, they were a mix of Harvard graduates and well-traveled brothers, and inventors and owners of patents and things that even in today’s measure, exude excellence. And we thought, “If another student ever wonders about doing a Black History report and wants to look at Black leadership, let’s give them something to dig into.” And that was really the undercurrent for how we came up with this mural and the imagery that it supports.

1-on-1 with Reginald Adams, artist of ‘Black Mt. Rushmore’ mural

DEFENDER: I’m going to ask your forgiveness before I even ask this last question, because I’m an artist. Certainly not in your stature. But, I don’t generally ask artists about why they didn’t do this or didn’t do that in their artwork, but I’m going to ask it right here if you don’t mind. Why no Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and why no Black women? I mean, this is Women’s History Month. I figured someone was going to ask.

ADAMS: Oh, it’s already been asked. So, there’s four men in the original Mount Rushmore, and Marcus really wanted to stay true to the concept honoring four Black men. And while I did propose additional names, you’ve got a litany of men and women who are worthy of the honor of being on a Black Mount Rushmore rendition. Marcus wanted to be true to the original four men founders and keep it in that light. So, in this sense, I was a little bit of work for hire and helped kind of influence the look, but he really drove and guided the direction as far as who was going to be on the wall, and limiting it at those four individuals. But here’s a beautiful thing. Because it is National Women’s History Month, we are currently working on a new mural for the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy that’s nestled in the heart of Third Ward, honoring Black women from the Third Ward and Houston area who have made significant contributions to not only the local community, but beyond. In a lot of ways, there’s a space and time for all of these things to happen. And I wish every single mural could address every single issue. But even if we would’ve included Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, somebody would’ve said, “Why not Paul Robison? Why not Barack Obama?” And if we included Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman. Somebody would have said, “Why not Madam CJ Walker?” So, I’ve learned in the realm of public art, you can only do so much. You have to prepare yourself for the questions and the critique. But I also know there’s always new opportunities to cover those grounds. And that’s how I ask people to look at art, as rather than “why not,” what else can we do to create new opportunities to celebrate those who we feel are worthy of recognition?

DEFENDER: So, will the mural at the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy be inside the school or outside?

ADAMS: Outside. It’ll be facing Hwy 288, facing the school’s faculty parking lot. You’ll be able to see it from the freeway and it’ll give these young women an opportunity to recognize some very powerful, influential, significant women of excellence that are from that area, but have touched the world. And I’m excited about that project. We’ll get that mural kicked off this month. And there’s going to be somebody saying, “Well, why aren’t there any men in that mural?” But it’s a chance for us to celebrate female excellence, and that’s the balance that I find in the work that I get a chance to do.

REGINALD ADAMS SOCIAL MEDIA

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