Congressman Bobby Rush and officials from the Chicago White Sox and Metra will dedicate a new 40-foot mural at the Lovana S. “Lou” Jones/ 35th St. Station that commemorates and pays tribute to the impact of African Americans on baseball on Chicago’s South Side. The event will take place at 11 am on Tuesday, September 25.
The 10-foot-by-40-foot, five-panel mural was commissioned by the Chicago White Sox at the special request of Congressman Rush. It was painted by Chicago artist Billy Jackson with the support of local students. Illinois Institute of Technology donated the work space for the mural painting. The artwork was placed under the Metra viaduct on the north side of 35th Street, just steps away from U.S. Cellular Field.
“The story of baseball is the story of our nation. The players in the segregated Negro Leagues along with those who broke the color barrier are portrayed in this mural. They are all heroes whose life stories remind us of the power of sports and baseball in particular to bring us together. I am proud of this magnificent piece of public art,” said Congressman Rush.
“Honoring tradition and celebrating our heritage are important values for the White Sox,” said White Sox Executive Vice President Howard Pizer. “Examples of that heritage surround us at the ballpark each and every day. This mural beautifully illustrates the history and vital role African Americans, the Negro Leagues and pioneers like Jackie Robinson and our very own Minnie Minoso have played in creating the game we all know and love – baseball.”
“Metra is proud to be part of this project,’ said Metra Acting Chairman Larry Huggins. “Thousands of Metra riders use this station every year, and hopefully as they walk past this mural they will learn a little something about the African-American baseball players who are such an important part of the area’s rich baseball history.”
About the Artist
Chicagoan Billy Jackson is a 26-year-old emerging creator of public art, with the White Sox-Negro League Metra Mural Project as only his second large-scale public work of art. Jackson started the project in mid-July and completed it in late August with the support of two college Art majors and students from Bridgeport and Bronzeville.
About the Mural
The mural features an historical South Side timeline, covering the Negro Leagues, the integration of baseball, legendary African-American White Sox players, the 2005 World Series champion White Sox and the future of African Americans in the game.
Historical baseball and societal figures in the painting include: Rube Foster, the founder of the Chicago American Giants and one of the founders of the Negro Leagues; Jackie Robinson, Hall of Famer and the man who broke baseball’s color barrier; Negro League legends Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson; White Sox legends Minnie Minoso, Harold Baines, Frank Thomas and 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye; and other celebrated African-American baseball players and images of Old Comiskey Park, Bronzeville and U.S. Cellular Field.
The mural also features important but lesser-known players like Sam Hairston and Bob Boyd, who joined Minoso in breaking Chicago baseball’s color barrier in 1951, and Al Smith, who played for the White Sox in the 1959 World Series.