A mural painted by Colin Quashie is on display at the Knapp-Sanders Building on UNC’s campus and was officially dedicated in a ceremony on July 26. The mural, called SERVICE, shows a gathering of influential African Americans from throughout North Carolina’s history at the counter of a diner. From the School of Government’s website:

A creative interpretation of the Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-in of 1960, SERVICE was commissioned in 2009 as the first in a series of four murals that will commemorate the contributions of African Americans and Native Americans to the state. These new works are intended to fill a gap in the depiction of diversity in a series of murals created in the 1950s by artist Francis Vandeveer Kughler for the Knapp-Sanders Building (then the Joseph Palmer Knapp Buidling). Read More

As we examined the panels in this remarkable work of art, we were struck by how many of the figures represented there we at UNC Press have gotten to know over the years through the books we have published. Our dual mission to advance scholarship by publishing distinguished academic work and to serve the people of the state and region by publishing superb general interest books means that we have been able to bring into print books that highlight the lives and works of some of the state’s most important historical figures. To see many of them come to life visually in Quashie’s mural is a powerful reinforcement of the importance of their contributions to North Carolina’s–and America’s–history.

In the coming weeks, we’re going to feature each of the eight panels and highlight some of the people depicted within them. The first panel of the mural is Princeville, North Carolina.

“Freedom Hill was a community of freed slaves following the Civil War. In 1885 it was renamed after ex-slave Turner Prince and incorporated as Princeville, North Carolina. It is the oldest incorporated municipality of freed slaves in America. The Town Hall, originally a Rosenwald school, is now the community’s African-American museum.”

Featured in this panel are David Walker, George Henry White, Harvey E. Beech, Abraham H. Galloway (seated), Annie Wealthy Holland, and Joseph McNeil (in chef’s jacket). Each of these North Carolinians made a distinct impact on history through their efforts to end racial inequalities.

David Walker, a native of Wilmington, was born in 1785 as a free African American, but left the South for Boston, where he made a bold move that resulted in a bounty for his capture. As an abolitionist, Walker wrote David Walker’s Appeal To the Coloured Citizens of the World, a pamphlet calling for people to fight against the institution of slavery in America. His statements, which condoned the use of violence by slaves against overseers in the fight for freedom, outraged the supporters of slavery. In 1830, Walker was found dead; the cause of his death is attributed to illness, though it was rumored he was murdered. To learn more about Walker and read his rebellious essays, we recommend checking out William Andrews’ The North Carolina Roots of African American Literature.

We look forward to walking through North Carolina history as we examine each panel of this remarkable work of art. Look for a new post about Quashie’s SERVICE mural each Tuesday for the next seven weeks.

–Alyssa and Ellen