A new mural at Jackson State University is honoring civil rights heroes is ensuring that they will never be forgotten. Learn about the mural “Chain Breakers” in the Clarion Ledger article by Gabriela Szymanowska below.

A mural honoring civil rights legends — both living and dead — who blazed a path for equality was unveiled at Jackson State University Saturday morning.

The mural, “Chain Breakers,” depicts six notable civil rights activists, both living and dead, who blazed a path for equality on the outside of the Council of Federated Organization’s building. (Credit: Clarion Ledger)

Titled “Chain Breakers,” the mural depicts six civil rights activists as they rise above a chain that is broken. The notable figures in the mural range from the community’s first florist to the first African American female legislator in the state.

“This is a great historical representation of our history here at Jackson State University and the history of West Jackson,” Thomas Hudson, president of Jackson State University said in a statement. “All of the individuals in their own way had a wonderful impact on the university, the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi and we are just happy to be a part of this celebration for them.”

  • Rep. Alyce G. Clarke, the first African American female legislator in Mississippi
  • Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights leader who organized Mississippi Freedom Summer and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Bob Moses, civil rights leader and field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Rose Elizabeth Howard Robinson, Lanier High School teacher
  • Louise Marshall, the first African American bookstore owner in the Washington Addition community
  • Albert Powell, the first African American florist in Washington Addition community

The mural was painted on the outside of the Council of Federated Organizations building, located at 1017 John R. Lynch St., on Jackson State’s campus. 

The Council of Federated Organizations was established in 1961 as a coalition of several major civil rights groups in Mississippi, a university news release stated. Some of the groups included Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

While all bearing different names, the groups worked together under the council to register voters and conduct other activities related to civil rights.

“When I learned that I was being considered, I was blown away to know that they would consider me along with those other people that they have on the mural,” Rep. Alycle Clark, D-Jackson, said. “Have you looked at them and the kind of things that they’ve done down through the years? To be among them on that wall, here in West Jackson is such an honor.”

Heather Denné, director of community engagement for Jackson State University, said in the news release the mural is a part of the university’s efforts to bring art to the community.

“We started this journey about two years ago to create art in our communities,” she said. “We always wanted murals because of the lack of art.”

Denné commissioned local Jackson artist Sabrina Howard, who has created other murals in Jackson such as the Milton Chambliss Shoe Hospital mural in the 900 block of John R. Lynch Street and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” at the Blackburn Learning Garden near the main campus of Jackson State.

Among those attending were Louise Marshall; Rep. Alyce G. Clarke; Fannie Lou Hamer’s daughter, Jacqueline Hamer Flakes; Rose Elizabeth Howard Robinson’s grandson, Jason Robinson; Albert Powell’s niece, Regina Orey; and Angela Stewart, archivist for the university’s Margaret Walker Center.