"Standing Tall and Proud: African American Heritage in Tazewell County"
In April of 2021, The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors commissioned a public artwork to be erected on or near the Courthouse grounds to honor the County's African American heritage and the historical contributions of African Americans to the County's development. The Board appointed a citizens committee to recommend the type of art and the persons whose images were to be portrayed.
The committee dedicated itself to researching, planning, and facilitating the creation of a permanent outdoor mural to honor and commemorate the heritage of Tazewell County-born African American citizens whose lives have impacted and inspired others in their communities.
Those portrayed represent the contributions of several generations and disparate vocations advanced by their contributions. Tazewell County pays tribute in this mural to a timespan of African American life in the County ranging from those born into slavery in the mid-1850s to those living into the 21st century. The individuals' lives and memorable contributions will soon be detailed on narrative plaques installed along the Courthouse courtyard wall. The Board and the Committee hope that the accomplishments of those portrayed in the face of historic racial adversity will serve as inspiration for young people today and tomorrow.
The portraits were drawn and designed in color by Ellen Elmes, who also painted most of the facial portraits on the figures. She worked with other artists in the community to paint the life-sized figures and backgrounds on fabric panels that are currently being installed permanently on the wall. The other artists are Brittany Davis, Valencia Johnson, Shelley Lallande, Sarah Romeo, Catherine Romeo, Kelvin Seabolt, Linda Weatherly Shroyer, Jacenta Trigg, Brandon Viney, and Renee Wienecke. Graphics for the narrative plaques were created by Don Elmes and fabricated by Vance Graphics.
The committee members are: Co-Chairs Mabel Horton and Flora Sinkford; members Ellen Elmes, Susie Green, Melanie Henry, Shanna Plaster, Sarah Romeo, Jeanette Wilson, and Ex-Officio member Eric Young. 2022 Board of Supervisors members supporting the project are Margaret Asbury, Aaron Gillespie, Andy Hrovatic, Shanna Plaster, and Charles Stacy, as well as 2021 past Board Members Mike Hymes and Tom Lester.
Video of the Project and Mural Dedication