Working in collaboration with the Southside Community Association in Flagstaff, Arizona, an Ethnic studies scholar/artist designed and produced a mural on the exterior of the Murdoch Community Center—located on the site of the segregated Paul Laurence Dunbar School. The mural depicts community leaders from the segregation era, as well as iconic buildings, multi-ethnic faces, and other images reflecting the racial and ethnic diversity, which has historically typified the “south side” of the tracks—below Flagstaff’s Route 66—in which African Americans and Mexicanos/Latinos/as were segregated in separate housing, schools and churches from the early 1920s to the 1950s. This presentation assesses how the Murdoch Mural Project embodies the nexus between academic research and community development. It suggests how ethnic studies (and multidisciplinary programs incorporating African American Studies, Chicano/Latino/a Studies, Native American Studies, and Asian American Studies) represent an alternative, more productive, utilization of the academic enterprise, preparing scholar-activists, residents and organic intellectuals to leverage their history and culture for empowerment and sustainable communities. The lead researcher/artist relies on literature by Lipsitz, Freire, and Boal to analyze knowledge practices reflected in the mural project and in the community associations mobilized to restore the Southside’s legacy.
|Keywords:||Ethnic Studies Pedagogy, Blacks in Arizona, Community Murals|
Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies Program, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA