Two Memphis elementary schools – Rozelle Creative and Performing Arts Elementary and Springdale-Memphis Magnet Elementary – recently unveiled murals commemorating the courageous actions of the Memphis 13, the group of African American students who integrated Memphis City Schools during the civil rights era.
The mural unveilings are new milestones in honoring the Memphis 13’s enduring legacy.
Hosted by Principal Carmen Gregory, Springdale Elementary held a celebration to honor school partners, including the Memphis 13 Foundation and the Memphis 13. On hand for the unveiling of the artwork by artist Jamond Bullock were members of the Memphis 13 and The Memphis 13 Foundation.
Bullock crafted his work to depict the historic journey of the Memphis 13 and their unwavering commitment to equality in education. Going forward, the mural is envisioned as an inspiration and educational tool, engaging students in conversations about civil rights and fostering a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by these trailblazing individuals.
“The murals serve as tangible reminders of our collective responsibility to advocate for equal opportunities in education,” Gregory said. “The Memphis 13’s remarkable courage and resilience continue to inspire us, and their legacy will forever be etched into the fabric of our school.”
At Rozelle Elementary, Dr. Taurus M. Hines, the school’s principal, welcomed guests, faculty, students, and members of the Memphis community to a red-carpet-themed ceremony. Tennessee State Representative G.A. Hardaway led the ribbon cutting and dedication, which included Dr. Angela Whitelaw, deputy superintendent of Schools and Academic Support.
“These murals are powerful tributes to the Memphis 13, who paved the way for inclusivity and educational equality in our community,” said Hines. “We hope these vibrant artworks inspire our students to embrace the values of tolerance, unity, and social progress.”
Michelle Robinson McKissack, a Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board member (and mayoral candidate) gave remarks and brought regards from the school board.
Embracing the theme of unity and progress, the mural, which also was painted by Bullock, is designed to capture the resilience and determination of the Memphis 13 while serving as a daily reminder of the ongoing pursuit of equality and justice within the school community.
Both events showcased the collective effort and collaboration between the schools, talented artists, and community organizations. The mural unveilings were made possible by grants from the Memphis 13 Foundation, an organization founded by members of the Memphis 13. The foundation aims to empower students, promote diversity, and foster equity within the education system.
The Memphis 13 trailblazers attended: Bruce Elementary (Dwania Kyles, Harry Williams, Michael Willis); Gordon Elementary (Alvin Freeman, Sharon Malone, Sheila Malone, Pamela Mayes); Rozelle Elementary (Joyce Bell, E.C. Freeman, Leandrew Wiggins, Clarence Williams); Springdale Elementary (Deborah Ann Holt; Jacqueline Moore).