Murals at Hairston Middle SchoolBy Ivan Saul Cutler, Carolina Peacemaker / July 30, 2021
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A heritage of color, achievement and authority in dramatic intergenerational murals brightened and emboldened five hallways and concourses of Hairston Middle School.
Under the direction of accomplished muralist Darlene J. McClinton, an artistic team of students from the school and N.C. A&T State University worked diligently over a seven week period to “transform the blank walls of a middle school into a living museum, which is nothing less than arts integration at its best.”
What began last year as an inspiring transformational idea of Hairston’s art teacher LeShari Clemons became a pervasive reality, “actually a grand vision” with the enthusiastic support of Principal Lee Williams, who sanctioned the presentation of famous people of color in American history to raise the aspirations and confidence of students now and into the future.
He said students “now and in the future need inspiration to see people who look like them,” people who have made significant contributions across the academic, social, medical, business, legal, sports and political spectrum.
McClinton, who also serves as Arts Grant Manager at ArtsGreenboro, said students and teachers participated in the design process, agreeing on subjects and conducting research to subjects. “The design process began with approvals, and my creative minds team began to create works to make the school come alive with designs that inspire, uplift and educate,” she said, explaining, “My N.C. A&T students came out during the day to work, educate and share narratives with the middle school students. This project has impacted their lives forever.”
Among the images are President Barack Obama, space mathematician Katherine Johnson, singer Lauryn Hill, entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, political activist Marcus Garvey, author Toni Morrison, labor leader Cesar Chavez, activist Huey Newton and many more.