The Park Street Mural was a collaborative process administered and designed by artist Angela Rivers. She was supported by many individuals, including Bennie Drake, Daniel Mitchell, and many more, who volunteered their time through the summer, fall, and spring of 1978. Together, they achieved the successful completion of the mural.

The idea of the mural was born in 1977. Chicago-based artist Mark Rovignon visited Oasis Graphic Arts, located at the corner of University and Fifth in Champaign-Urbana, and met with local African-American artists to discuss his work and hold a workshop on mural creation. At the time, the group of individuals interested in creating a mural had yet to find funding or an artist. Several organizers rejected the outright participation of more outspoken artists who, they feared, might include controversial political content in the mural. They eventually found Angela Rivers, who had an idea of the mural rooting local African-Americans in their long historical odyssey, locally, nationally and internationally.

With Angela Rivers' vision, and funding from the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA), a make-work program out of the federal government, the mural group hired local high school youths to work on the mural during the summer of 1978. Even before the summer began, artists were meeting with Angela to discuss her ideas and to make suggestions. The intention of these meeting was a communal product. For example, in the original design Angela only had one West African image depicting life before slavery. But discussion with some factions in the community convinced her that the history should go back further. Consequently, she added images inspired by ancient Egyptian art and life to her mural design.

In this artists' section we feature three contributors who worked on the mural in different capacities in 1978. Many more voices can and should be added to this oral memory of the Park Street Mural. Individuals who helped take part who would like to be included should e-mail Noah Lenstra at or visit the eBlackCU contact form.