The Wall of Respect

43rd Street and Langley Chicago

Lost Murals of Chicago/The Wall of Respect
Rebecca Zorach
Written By Rebecca Zorach

Rebecca Zorach teaches and writes on early modern European art (15th-17th century), contemporary activist art, and art of the 1960s and 1970s at Northwestern University. Particular interests include print media, feminist and queer theory, theory of representation, ​​and the multiple intersections of art and politics.

Painted in 1967 by OBAC (the Organization for Black American Culture) with muralist William Walker, this wall celebrating Black heroes at 43rd and Langley touched off the national and international community mural movement, even though the collaboration that produced it was racked with controversy and conflict.

Uplifting Images

The initial version of the Wall was divided into sections celebrating Black heroes in the realms of politics, music, athletics, drama, literary pursuits, and religion, and was produced by fourteen artists, including both painters and photographers.

Controversial changes

Changes were made soon after the Wall was unveiled. William Walker intervened to allow Norman Parish’s Statesmen section to be whitewashed, and Eugene “Eda” Wade added a Black Power fist at the center of the section and repainted the portraits.

Later Shifts

Walker also changed his own section twice; the final version is displayed here. He saw the Wall as a running commentary on current events, like a newspaper.

The Wall of Respect was created in 1967 and destroyed in 1971.

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Lost Murals of Chicago

The Wall of Respect

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