Created By: Mural Tours
Chris Green’s portrait of Jamilah Nasheed hangs directly next to his mural of Lawrence Walls and Richard Perry on a vacant duplex. Senator Jamilah Nasheed is a Democrat representing Missouri’s 5th Senatorial District in the City of St. Louis. She is a legislative leader and advocates mainly in regards to education, criminal justice, human rights, and urban economic development, which makes her an important subject for this mural project. Her backstory is fascinating: at the age of nineteen, she opened an inner-city bookstore called Sankofa Books and Gifts, with the purpose of promoting important discussions. After running this small business for ten years, she ran for office and was elected into the Missouri House of Representatives. In 2014, as a senator, she passed Senate Bill 731, that would help preserve St. Louis neighborhoods by “expanding the definition of ‘nuisance’ to include absentee landlords who allow vacant properties to harm the value of neighboring properties” (“Senator Jamilah Nasheed”). In this way, like Frankie Muse Freeman, she becomes physically etched into a history that she is changing, offering hope to the community. Nasheed has also been an important activist in the community and has gained visibility for her strong stance against the handling of the case of the police officer Darren Wilson’s murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The positioning of Jamilah’s portrait directly next to the portrait of Lawrence Walls and Richard Perry, both former football coaches at Sumner High School, perfectly exhibits the range of heroes Green wants to paint. The contrast of color between the two paintings—with the portrait of Nasheed featuring bright shades of red, white, and blue and the portrait Walls and Perry only featuring shades of black, brown, and white—emphasizes the vast differences between the heroes while bringing them together in a beautifully complementary way to emphasize the many kinds of aspirations available to community members and different ways that a community can be served.
This point of interest is part of the tour: From Vacancy to Agency: St. Louis Murals of Redemption