An effort is underway to install a mural on the South 37th Street Underpass honoring Juneteenth, and to rename the underpass “Juneteenth Freedom Underpass.”
The project was requested by the Pullman Neighborhood Council and recommended for approval by the Recreation and Parks Commission last fall. Once cleared, the mural will be located solely on the south face of the southern structure of the underpass. The annual Richmond Juneteenth Parade passes through the underpass as part of the route to the festival in Nicholl Park each June.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, TX and announced the Civil War had ended and that slaves were free. The historic Texas event occurred more than two years following the Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863).
The mural, slated to be completed by May 31, 2022, will honor the contributions of longtime resident, activist and organizer Jerrold Hatchett, a retired Sims Metal manager who advocated for the annual Juneteenth parade and celebration, the city said.
“His advocacy recognized the Juneteenth celebration as a gem that showcases community, music, art, and culture by descendants of the Great Black migration from the rural south that happened in the 20th century,” neighbors say in city documents. “The parade honors the historic achievements of its ancestors and descendants by passing through the southside neighborhood, an area that was largely settled by Black Americans from the south coming to work during World War II. While many states have actively recognized Juneteenth as a major holiday, its presence in California went largely unnoticed. Jerrold helped keep the flame alive, and it is evident now what an important holiday it has become as it is now a federal holiday.”
The Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council received a Love Your Block Mini-Grant in the amount of $9,775 from the Community Services Department and City Manager’s Office, Economic Development to implement the Juneteenth Freedom Mural project.
The Pullman Neighborhood Council worked with Bay Area muralist Desi Mundo of the Community Rejuvenation Project to aid residents in the design and painting of the mural. The mural concept design was approved by the Richmond Arts and Culture Commission in September.