FORT SCOTT, Kan. — The Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce is preparing to bring a historic mural to downtown.

“The first Kansas colored infantry was sworn in on the parade grounds here at Fort Scott, shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation, and so this is a story that has always been in Fort Scott’s legacy,” said Rachel French.

The mural will honor this infantry, who were the first African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

According to the Fort Scott National Historic Site, Kansas was the first northern state to recruit, train, and send African American soldiers into combat during the Civil War.

“The first Kansas colored infantry story is such an amazing heroic story that we wanted to make sure that we took the time to educate our community. So many people do not realize that actually the first African American soldiers that were sworn in for the Union actually fought in Fort Scott, Kansas,” said French.

Organizers were intentional with planning for the mural to face the National Historic Site. They gave thanks to the Witt family who owns the downtown building for obliging.

“Because so many spots at our National Historic Site can see this mural and so we knew that it was important that we had this mural facing the National Historic Site where the unit actually sworn in. And so the Witts graciously agreed to allow us to put the mural here,” said French.

The Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce has received a number of proposals from artists throughout the Four States area to do the project.

The Chamber received a Rural Prosperity Grant of more than $5,000 to fund part of the project, but still needs to raise $3,000 more.

“Any contributions that we have that exceed the $8,000 mark will absolutely go straight into the mural. We’ll work on signage, getting plaques to honor those that have contributed and really telling the story. Because you know it’s not about only just seeing the mural but understanding the true impact that it had,” said Tayton Majors.

A panel of local judges will select the artist who will complete the project, and they’ll announce who that person will be on Juneteenth.