Hampton fifth graders create murals of Virginia civil rights activists

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HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Fifth graders at a Hampton elementary school unveiled murals dedicated to Virginia civil rights activists on Friday. 

Around 60 students at Barron Fundamental Elementary School created the projects after learning about the six key figures.

Their teacher, Kira Jackson, received grants from the Hampton Education Foundation and Hampton Arts Commission, to do the project over a six-day course.

She was proud of the end results.

“Beyond words. I’m so proud, elated, and honored. I’m really excited for them to walk and see the work they did and how much they collaborated, and how they were inspired by these people and their actions to give them the credit they deserve,” she said.

The activists portrayed on the murals are Maggie L. Walker, Barbara Johns, Oliver Hill, Linwood Holton, L. Douglas Wilder, and fifth grader Davon Crowder’s favorite, Arthur Ashe,.

“He wasn’t just famous for playing tennis, but for being a writer. He was a writer for social change,” Crowder said.

Fifth grader Laila Beck Covington wrote and presented a speech on Barbara Johns.

She says she was inspired by Johns’ youth.

“She was a 16-year-old girl and she led a strike against segregated schools because the conditions of her school weren’t so good,” Beck Covington said.

Artist Asa Jackson lead the kids in the workshop to create the murals.

He says it was a learning experience for both him and the students.

“Amazing, I couldn’t have done better myself. To think 60 hands touched each one of these and they didn’t take away from what the class had done before them and keep building onto the progress is amazing,” he said.

The students and their families who came out for the unveiling were extremely proud of the work completed.

Crowder says it’s a legacy that he hopes he can come back and see one day.

“It’s going to be really cool to know that in 20 years and if it’s still here, that I did that in fifth grade,” he said.

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