Austinites reflect on MLK Jr., other cultural leaders in front of murals around town

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austinites were out around town Monday soaking in beautifully-painted murals celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Black cultural icons.

KXAN photojournalist Julie Karam caught up with some folks, a white father teaching his daughter about the history and culture behind the murals and a Black couple who typically participates in organized MLK Jr. Day events, and asked them their thoughts.

“It’s incredibly powerful,” Andrew Ardis said of the We Rise mural on 12th and Chicon. “It forces us to think about what we grew up learning and what we think about the world, because you have to communicate that to your children and family, and hopefully they take some valuable lessons from that, and they’re inspired to make a better world than maybe we came in to. Make it better for the next generation.”

Ardis, who was born in Austin, said he had “a million thoughts” in his head about the mural and what it represents.

“I remember when the mural was painted over, and that was outrageous,” he said. “But what can you do other than rebuild?”

Al and Toni Bingham also stopped to talk, saying they are usually busy taking part in events that honor MLK Jr., but like with most things now, COVID-19 made them adjust plans.

Al drew inspiration from the Abraham Lincoln quote, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward,” when describing his feelings in front of the mural.

“America, we continue to hope it can fulfill that promise of a perfect society if you will, but we still have a long way to go as evidence by things that continue to happen, especially over the last week ago,” Al said.

Toni said every MLK Jr. Day is an emotional time for her and given recent events it has made it even more so.

“I pray every day that, as an American, that we all can pull it together,” Toni said. “And it seems like it’s not happening, but I don’t give up.”

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