A mural of six civil rights activists rising above a broken chain was revealed to the public during an official unveiling celebration. The
painting, titled “Chain Breakers” is located on the outside of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) building and was created by local Jackson artist Sabrina Howard.
“As an artist, it is a great privilege to create public art,” Howard said. “When approached to create this mural, I experienced instant gratification at the thought of conceptualizing these six pioneers. After learning that each person on this mural broke barriers and set examples in the community surrounding the COFO building, the title was born.”
“All of the individuals in their own way had a wonderful impact on the university, the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi, and we are just happy to be a part of this celebration for them,” Thomas Hudson, president of Jackson State University said.
The trailblazers depicted in the mural greatly assisted with breaking the chains of oppression and creating immense opportunities for equality.
The six legendary people on the mural, both living and deceased, include:
- Representative Alyce G. Clarke, the first African American female legislator in Mississippi
- Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights leader who organized Mississippi Freedom Summer and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
- Bob Moses, civil rights leader and field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
- Rose Elizabeth Howard Robinson, Lanier High School teacher and JSU administrator
- Louise Marshall, the first African American bookstore owner in the Washington Addition community
- Albert Powell, the first African American florist in Washington Addition community
Dr. Heather Denne’, executive director of JSU’s Community Engagement, spoke passionately regarding her quest to beautify the community more than two years prior.
“We celebrate this mural that represents several organizations that are working together for the betterment of our community, which is in the same vein as the COFO building.” Denne’ said. “JSU and the community are one and we value this area that surrounds our University.”
The COFO building was established in 1961 as an umbrella organization to unify and meet the needs of an increasing presence of civil rights organizations in Mississippi. Some of the groups included Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Among those attending the celebration were Louise Marshall; Rep. Alyce G. Clarke; Fannie Lou Hamer’s daughter, Jacqueline Hamer Flakes; Rose Elizabeth Howard Robinson’s grandson, Jason Robinson; Albert Powell’s niece, Regina Orey; and Angela Stewart, archivist for the university’s Margaret Walker Center.