Tifton Gazette


April 6, 2013

New mural honors influential black leaders in Ashburn

TIFTON — In Ashburn, a young newly elected city councilman, entrepreneur, artist and designer, James Hall, 23, was on a mission to honor national and local influential black leaders by way of his passion for his community and love for art.

“Since returning home from work in New York, I’ve been on a journey to discover more about not only the black history of Ashburn but any history I could find. Although, I found a lot of historical facts in the pictorial history book in the library, only four pictures were found relating to local black history.”

Hall, along with the help of sponsors and volunteers from the community, raised money to create a honorary hand painted mural featuring nine black national and 14 local leaders and families in civil rights, education, community service and government works.

The project took a little over a month to complete after Hall proposed the project on Facebook to the community. Over $300 was raised to purchase the outdoor acrylic paint and brushes, wood panel canvases and weather resistant coating, along with the tools and supplies needed to secure the mural for its final display on the fence above an entrance to the Tom Whitsett Park. Hall’s community group, Our New Ending, a group of young people focused on creating solutions in their community, helped administer the project along with the help from students who participate in the single after-school program in Turner County, Boys and Girls United.

“On this incredible search, I discovered that Ashburn has a very extensive rich black history yet to be recorded, along with the fact that there are so many people willing to come together and ‘make’ history,” Hall said.

Juretha McMillian, who is honored in the mural along with her husband, was an important piece in what inspired the project for Hall, he says.

He said, “She always has been, and I picture, always will be, an active role model and contributor to the community above and beyond what’s expected from her. Leaders like her, those honored in the mural and many that I didn’t, have the power to lift people up and inspire them to play active roles in their community.”

The late Hodge King, also featured in the mural along with his wife, impacted Hall’s ambition to initiate this project as well.

Hall said, “Growing up, I heard so much about Mr. Hodge King, and never really knew who he was or what he looked like. Even after the street I lived on was renamed after him, I still didn’t know his story. The Tom Whitsett Park Black History Memorial Mural project gave me the chance to not only find the history, but also to more importantly share it with the community in an area in which I had experience — art and design.”

Hall said this is not the end of his efforts to make a considerable change in his community.

“I give much thanks to the unbelievable support from community members,” he said.

He said to receive kind offerings from people from far away like a local soldier from Ashburn, Monisha Barber, who contributed from Afghanistan, and Rashada Bruno, also from Ashburn, who contributed from California, really made a difference and showed him that people from Ashburn may still have faith in a better future for their community, city and county.

Hall also informed The Gazette of a few more projects he hopes to make possible: T.W. Park Black History Memorial Mural continued, T.W. Park community garden, Unity Fest and neighborhood programs for recycling and crime watches.

Until then, Hall says he’s busy managing and developing his online home-based businesses while tending to his family, friends, small dog and dearly beloved girlfriend of three years.

If you’d like to find out more about the mural project, feel free to visit Ashburn and check it out or search Facebook for T.W. Park Black History Memorial Mural and like the page, Hall says. If you do by chance visit, he encourages people to “check-in” and to share/post pictures of you standing in the entrance on the page’s wall.

To contact Hall, find him on Facebook, Twitter @designerjeigh or e-mail him at Jeigh.art@gmail.com.


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