JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin history is in the spotlight on Main Street as a brand new mural takes shape.

“We are standing at the corner of First and Main right behind Bruce’s point of view,” said Nanda Nunnelly, Langston Hughes Cultural Society.

Where a blank brick wall is transforming into a piece of art.

It’s a black history mural, featuring the performing arts.

“Charles McPherson is a world-renowned master jazz saxophonist. He plays all over the world. He was born in Joplin, we have that wonderful claim to fame,” said Nunnelly.

Poet and Joplin native Langston Hughes is also in the mix.

“We also have Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Scott Joplin, Mamie Smith, we also have Duke Ellington,” said Nunnelly.

All black performers who shared their talents in Joplin during segregation.

“Highlight some of the black performers that came and, you know, performed in Joplin during the time of segregation because these are performers that, not only were they dealing with, you know, racism out in the world, but they were dealing with the fact that they were coming to a town to perform and many of them not able to even stay in the hotels where some of which they performed. Then also about our community, the community that also took them in and allowed them to have a place to stay,” said Nunnelly.

Kansas City artist Alexander Austin is creating the mural and hopes to have it essentially complete this weekend.


Supporters are excited to see the progress.

“Every time I drive by I get a little thing inside of my chest that says ‘I can’t believe that it’s actually happening.’ This has been a labor of love for many people for quite some time,” said Nunnelly.

Donations have covered much of the bill but there is still some fundraising to pay for the final costs.

You can find out more on their Facebook page.