City's Public Art Initiative Captures Stories of Civil Rights and African American History

The City of Columbia launched a public art project that will bring history — specifically African American history — to life in a bold, vibrant way.

After approval from Columbia City Council, the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation department commissioned artists to paint murals on exterior walls at four city-owned facilities.

1401 Main Street: The Pursuit of Opportunity, Celebrating African American Business

1401 Main St. represents what was part of a thriving Black business district. The mural depicts African American businesses that were in that area.

Woodland Park: The Pursuit of Justice, Sarah Mae Flemming

Woodland Park, off Garners Ferry Road. depicts Sarah Mae Flemming. She was an African American Eastover resident who, in June 1954, took a seat in a “whites only” section of a segregated city bus. She was attacked by the bus driver and eventually filed a lawsuit against the owners of the bus company. The Flemming incident happened more than a year ahead of the much more heralded Rosa Parks bus incident in Alabama.

Valencia Park: The Pursuit of Education, Rosewood Elementary, and School Desegregation

alencia Park in Rosewood represents young African American students integrating schools in Columbia in the 1960s.

Hyatt Park: The Pursuit of Citizenship, Benjamin Mack, Septima Clark, and Listervelt Middleton

Hyatt Park, in North Columbia shows several prominent Black citizens, including educator Septima Poinsette Clark, civil rights activist Benjamin Mack, and journalist and public TV personality Listervelt Middleton.