Plain wall to beautiful masterpiece

Cassidy Haag

A brand new mural has taken place near the famous Monroe School, the basis for Supreme Court Case Brown v. Board of Education.

Joe Perry, local police officer of Topeka, Kansas, made the new mural possible by making a call to ArtsConnect of Topeka in 2015. The mural is located north of the Monroe building on 15th St. and Monroe. Despite being the site of our nation’s first desegregated school, the area is also the site of many current crimes. With this mural, Perry hoped that it would mean more watching eyes in the area as well as a decrease in crime. 

The Monroe school became a historical landmark in 1954 as the first school to desegregate. Sixty-four years later, the school has become a museum dedicated to honoring the Brown v. Board of Education case. Located north of the building is a mural representing Topeka, Kansas. The idea behind the mural was to make the art of the participants of the Living the Dream artwork contest come to life.

Sarah Fizell, the ArtsConnect director, took initiative and began creating the massive piece. The mural is 130 feet by 30 feet, and it took three years and $100,000 to create and finish.

“My role was to make sure that the lifts were here, and the paint was ordered, and the artists were paid, and that the grant reports were filed, and the fundraising was done,” Fizell said.

Within the three-year time span, the mural took over 2,000 people from nine different countries to complete. The ages of the helpers ranged from young children to senior citizens. Volunteers also included the women’s correctional facility. Perry had envisioned all types of people to help with the mural as a way to bring people together and show that they can get along.

“The citizens paint it so they’re invested in it, they want to protect it, people come to see it. Now, there’s all these eyes watching these criminals do bad things, they don’t want to get caught so they find some other place to be. This isn’t the end,” Perry said. “In the spring of next year the police department has commissioned ArtsConnect to put a mural on the police department.”

This mural was made as a way to decrease crime and get the community involved. It also represents what the Topeka community values as a whole: a safer, more welcoming area for people from all walks of life.