Macomb unveils a mural celebrating the life and work of CT Vivian

MACOMB – A mural honoring civil rights pioneer Reverend Dr. CT Vivian and his ties to Macomb was officially unveiled in the 200 block of East Carroll Street on Saturday.

The mural, titled “The Life of a Servant”, is 75 feet long and 18 feet high.

At one end, the profile of an older Vivian overlooks significant events in her life – graduating from Macomb High School, attending Western Illinois University, preaching in Nashville and leading bands on the steps of the Selma Courthouse , Alabama.

At the other end is a depiction of President Barack Obama presenting Vivian with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“You won’t find such a beautiful mural anywhere else in the country,” said Jock Hedblade, executive director of the Macomb Area Convention and Tourism Bureau.

Hedblade partnered on the mural project with Byron Oden-Shabazz, director and founder of Macomb’s CT Vivian Project Foundation.

The mural is part of efforts in Macomb to recognize Vivian as a pillar of the civil rights movement that will culminate in a permanent center to honor her at the site of her childhood home.

“We have great ideas for a lot of things to come, and I think we’re going to put this city on the map, nationally,” Hedblade said. “We’ll do it with your help, so we appreciate it.”

Hedblade and Oden-Shabazz enlisted artist Macomb Michael Mahoney to design and paint the mural.

Mahoney initially said he viewed the large canvas as an opportunity to showcase his artistic skills.

But as he read and discovered Vivian, the project became more personal for him.

“I was so inspired by this man, all I could think of was, what can I do to truly honor his memory through the strength of my image,” Mahoney said.

Oden-Shabazz said the mural was made possible through donations from Macomb residents.

As Mahoney painted, people drove by and then checks appeared at City Hall, Oden-Shabazz said.

“You did this, this community did this,” Oden-Shabazz said. “That’s what’s so important about legacy. I’m comfortable saying I’m sure CT Vivian would appreciate this, because a collective did.

Others who spoke at the unveiling ceremony included Macomb Mayor Mike Inman, WIU President Guiyou Huang, and Teresa Haley, Illinois State NAACP President.

“CT Vivian has done so much for civil rights. He was part of our movement. So learn your story on CT Vivian and support the Macomb community,” Haley said. “Check out everything he’s done, because he made a difference, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Many of Vivian’s descendants were also there to take family photos in front of the mural and to celebrate her legacy in Macomb and beyond – a legacy that is etched in art, in history and in the hearts of her townspeople. native.

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