MIGHTY MOVES: Renovations get underway on iconic Crenshaw mural

Wave Staff Report

CRENSHAW — Crenshaw Boulevard has long been considered one of the major thoroughfares in Black Los Angeles.

And the mural, known as “Our Mighty Contribution,” has helped define that stretch of the boulevard between 48th and 52nd streets.

On April 29, the process of replacing that mural with new artwork — created by the same artists who created the original work — began with a community celebration.

Local elected officials and other civic leaders were on hand for the Pull Up at the Wall celebration, a five-hour event that featured a classic car show, a five-kilometer community run, vendors from the Crenshaw Farmers Market and food truck vendors 

Also on hand were members of the Rocking the Nation (RTN) crew, the artists that created the mural in 2000. 

“For a brief time after this event, the wall will be under construction to make way for new images that will reflect our history and heroes,” City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said. “There will be fresh images, no more peeling paint, and bright new colors, but also the same message: One that celebrates Black L.A. and extolls this neighborhood as the cradle of L.A.’s creative community.” 

The wall will be one of the focal points of Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3-mile long open-air museum along Crenshaw dedicated to preserving the history and culture of African Americans. 

At its inception, Destination Crenshaw promised that updating the images on the wall and shoring up the existing structure would be one of its signature projects. Now, as construction on the project intensifies, the wall is starting to receive its makeover. 

“We are beyond excited to be working with the RTN crew on this project,” Destination Crenshaw President and COO Jason Foster said. “This mural means so much to our community, and it deserves all the creativity, passion and love for South L.A. that only the RTN crew can give it.”

The RTN crew began in 1989 as one of the only all-Black graffiti crews in South L.A. From painting muraling on the Slauson railroad yards to exhibitions curated by the Getty, members of the RTN have created unique and diverse art pieces and its members have participated in exhibitions and art projects around the world.

The mural was created in 2000. Prior to that, artists and activists had painted messages of Black power, resistance and resilience on its 800-foot length since the 1950s.

The mural illustrates African-American history, featuring portraits of anti-slavery heroes Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, civil rights era leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. 

Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie and World War I, II and Vietnam veterans are there, along with professional athletes and many others. 

Its purpose, a member of the crew once said, is “to teach the history of our people, to teach our people to be proud, to teach our people love.”

Construction has been ongoing on the Destination Crenshaw project, which runs from 48th to 60th streets, since 2021. 

Work on the wall will begin in a few weeks with the construction of new supports and a new viewing platform for the wall. After that, the images known to the South L.A. community for decades will be removed. 

The RTN crew will begin painting a new mural this summer, with completion anticipated by early fall. Destination Crenshaw is improving infrastructure and building green community gathering places and parks, making direct investments in small businesses along Crenshaw, adding hundreds of trees, and installing works of art that tell the story of Black Los Angeles — past, present, and future. 

The project has grown significantly in scope, with a four-fold focus: bringing world-class art to South LA, becoming an economic engine for Black artists at every stage of their careers, driving career opportunities in the construction trades and providing small business owners with crucial support. 

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