ELGIN, Texas (KXAN) — Elgin unveiled a new mural on its Central Avenue Saturday with a community event, with powerful images of influential members of Elgin’s Black community.
The 20-foot high and 50-foot long mural grabs the attention of passerby, showing the faces of civil rights activist Harvey Westbrook, educator Annie Lee Haywood, musician Monty Joe Thomas, and business owners and community leaders S.H. McShan and Dororthy McCarther.
According to the City of Elgin, the mural was strategically painted on a building south of the railroad tracks. During segregation, the city’s Black population was concentrated into that area.
The mural’s artist, Jeremy Biggers, has roots in Elgin; he spent summers there with family, and holds the community close to his heart. This City of Elgin called the creation “a gift to the community” in a press release about the mural.
Dozens of community members gathered at the mural, located at 101 Central Ave, for the unveiling. Family members of those depicted in the mural were among the crowd.
There were some emotional moments at the event, with the crowd in tears during a performance by community members, who soulfully sang, “pushed me to the bottom of the boat, and still I rise to the top.”
The community reflected on progress, but recognized there’s still more work that needs to be done.
“I encourage everyone here, for part of your legacy, to take pictures, videos, because you don’t know when you won’t have that person any more,” said Theresa McShan, the town’s first Black mayor. “But having a memory is something nobody can take from you.”
Westbrook’s son, Richard Stancil, shared words with the crowd as well, thanking the community for their support.
“We are not only Lebrons, but we are intelligence in this community,” Stancil said. “Dad was the president of the Elgin Branch of the NAACP for many years. The organization was a way for Black communities to act collectively and aggregate…and to hold local governments accountable.”