In honor of Black History Month, Houstonians will see new artwork overlooking the downtown courthouse complex. The remembrance murals, showcased recently and inspired by Black women, signify social change. One of the murals honors State Representative Senfronia Thompson, who is serving her 25th term in the Texas Legislature.
The murals were created by artist Victor Ash in partnership with Street Art for Mankind and Central Houston. Precinct One County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who represents Downtown, is bringing a vision to the area with his “Big Art. Big Change,” a project to inspire social change through art.
Ellis saw a bigger vision for more murals downtown which brought upon the remembrance murals and also embracing the United Nations General Assembly’s sustainability resolutions.
“These murals are there to remind everyone that fair, equal and impartial justice is owed to everyone, no matter the color of their skin, how much money they have, who they are, or where they come from,” said Ellis.
The murals overlook Congress Plaza surrounding the downtown Houston courthouse complex. The Lady Justice mural represents peace, justice and strong institutions, and the second mural in honor of State Representative Senfronia Thompson represents a demand for justice for all.
Ellis said placing the murals on the downtown courthouse complex was very significant for the history of Harris County within that particular block.
“The county attorney’s building is on one of the most popular slave auction trading blocks in Houston,” he said. “That in part is why I thought that these two women, female features, would be important to be on this building.”
The murals can be seen from the southside of UHD’s One Main Building.
“I just can’t say just how beautiful not only the murals are, but they are the centerpiece for lots of conversations that have already occurred,” said UHD President Loren Blanchard.
Street Art for Mankind (SAM) is a nonprofit created in 2015 by curators Thibault and Audrey Decker. The nonprofit creates large murals across the world to bring attention to social change and environmental issues.
“We were really honored here to highlight the history, the struggle, but also the strength and the resilience of communities, and especially of the African American community, ” said Audrey Decker.
Senfronia Thompson, who represents Northeast Houston and Humble and is serving her 25th term, has been fighting for equality and justice since being elected. She’s the longest-serving woman and African-American in the Texas legislature’s history.
She said the murals hold a deeper message that all who see them can glean.
“I thank you again for the murals. They mean so much, not just because my picture is there, but for what those things say and mean to us, and hopefully for generations to come,” she said.
Thompson said with the 88th Texas Legislative Session underway, she will continue to fight to make sure Texans have equal opportunities.
“This session is not going to be anything different than us fighting for a solution for the people trying to make sure that we have strong universities, strong educational institutions, health care, job opportunities, and an opportunity for people to enjoy the aesthetics of all of the things that we have in our environment,” she said.
The mural’s message is part of a bigger project that Harris County is working on called Remembrance Park, a memorial that will honor four African-American men lynched in Harris County during the Jim Crow era.