Local Heroes

  • PS/IS 109 students lean the tall wooden panels up against a wall to paint them.
  • Council Member Jumaane D. Williams unveils the panel featuring his portrait at the dedication.
  • Dr. Una Clarke stands with her likeness.
  • The team and many of the people depicted in the mural stand proud in front of “Local Heroes.”

Project Description

“Local Heroes” enlivens a once neglected underpass with a vibrant tribute to the local heroes of Flatbush, including cultural icons – past and present, citywide, national, and international. This intensive research process enabled young people to discover local heroes and underrepresented leaders of color who have contributed to positive change within their community, the nation, and/or the world.
Within each panel, a local icon is paired with a national or international figure, creating meaningful dialogue within and across images. For example, in the first panel, which takes the form of a car, Pastor Gilford Monrose of Mount Zion Church is paired with political leader, journalist, and orator Marcus Garvey, who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). Pastor Gilford is renowned within East Flatbush for his tireless efforts to end gang violence through a clergy crisis response team.
In the fourth panel, shaped like a house, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, is paired with Dr. Una Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City Council. Additional figures represented include Connie Cincotta of Glenwood Masonry, Bishop Eric Daniel Garnes, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Nelson Mandella, and Assembly Member Helene Weinstein.
A railroad motif connects all the different panels, although only one pair is depicted in a traditional train car. The others – inspired by the contributions made by the paired heroes – included playful takes on transportation, like a locomotive steam engine, house on wheels, hot air balloon, house on wheels, bus, vintage car, and a carousel horse. 
Download educational curriculum (pdf)

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Project Info

Fun Facts

Fun Fact
This mural was installed across the street from the Groundswell 2014 mural project “Violence Destroys the Light of Today” in the same underpass.
At first, most of the students had no idea who many of the heroes were. After a few weeks, they were able to list of facts about these game-changers like it was their second nature.
Suggested Activity
Draw yourself and a hero who inspires you in your favorite mode of transportation, real or imaginary.