These black women all served, taught, and represented – or currently represent – the community in a number of different ways, but they all share a story of struggle and triumph.
On Saturday afternoon, The Martinez Street Women’s Center, San Anto Cultural Arts, and the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church unveiled a mural at 2603 E. Houston St. that was created to honor these local women and inspire young women of all ages and backgrounds on their own path to adulthood and leadership.
The free unveiling event featured music by DJ Despeinada, booths that offered screen printing and stamp pressing, and shaved ice creations by Chamoy City Limits to beat the summer heat. Attendees enjoyed free snacks and beverages and the Martinez Street Women’s Center staff hosted their annual Back to School Giveaway and provided free backpacks with school supplies for those in need of materials.
Rev. Kenneth R. Kemp opened the ceremony with a prayer. Councilman Alan Warrick (D2) and Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-35) gave brief remarks, praising the mural, which was created with the help of over 100 community members and adorns the wall of a building owned by the Antioch Church.
Before beginning work on the mural, the Martinez Street Women’s Center held collaborative meetings with the community to ensure that residents had a say in what would go on the wall.
“The overarching theme that everyone decided on was the women who came before us,” said Martinez Street Women’s Center Executive Director Andrea Figueroa. “We really wanted to make it an African American wall because of where it is: in the heart of Eastside San Antonio. The other theme is guiding young women to womanhood, making sure they have positive things to do, think, and say.”
The public art piece marks the 51st mural in San Antonio brought together by San Anto Cultural Arts, in collaboration with the Martinez Street Women’s Center and Antioch Church. The implementation of the artwork was led by mural artists Jane Madrigal and Rabbit Rye. Artist Raashad Ali was in charge of all the portraits in the mural, and other artists and community members assisted.
“I want to thank the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, Bexar County, and the (City’s) Department for Culture & Creative Development for giving us funds to complete this mural,” said San Anto Cultural Arts Interim Director Adriana Garcia.
Councilman Warrick spoke on the importance of teaching young people about the figures on the wall and why they matter.
“I think this is gonna be an inspiration for a lot of young girls,” Warrick said. “Our history is important on the Eastside because we have heroes and ‘sheroes’ in our community that we need to honor. This is a great step forward.”
Congressman Doggett said this is the first mural San Anto Cultural arts has completed on the Eastside, as they usually focus on the Westside. He said he looks forward to more public art in the future.
“As we pass by here and others pass by here, they will see leaders that have contributed to build this community and are continuing to inspire others,” Doggett said. “What’s especially beautiful is all the work that Martinez Street does in between these murals, and that is working with our girls and young women to be healthy, to involve them in the community. This is a great coming together.”
Top image: Martinez Street Women’s Center Staff Members Janee Eady and Kara Jackson take photos in front of the new mural. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.