Historic west end mural
This mural is a colorful welcome to the five historically Black neighborhoods of Historic West End. The house represents mid-century modern architecture, the common style of homes built in the surrounding area. Within the Black community, your home is your heart, your safe space, and a place of pride.
Adinkra are symbols from Ghana. The yellow Sankofa symbol by the door means “to retrieve,” or to go back into your history and use the information to move forward. The ice cream scoop is topped with another adinkra symbol, along with nods to other neighborhood markers. The Adinkrahene symbol, made up of concentric circles, represents the oneness and interconnectedness of all things.Many believe this is the first Adinkra symbol that all others derive from. You’ll also see the Dogwood flower - inspired by another area mural - a street car, the flag and gates of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), and a paintbrush because we are all artists at heart.
James (Jimmie) and Minnie McKee, creators of the Excelsior Club, look out the top window of the home. Sitting on the bench below, from left to right, are Dr. Reginald Hawkins, Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy, and J. Charles Jones (Mr. J). Jatanya Adams stands to the left of Mr. Jones. There is a space for you to “sit” on the bench with our community leaders and feel like you’re at home, getting to know your neighbors. The little girl wearing JCSU colors is a nod to the future. Read further to learn more about the important historical figures highlighted in this mural.
Jimmie McKee (1912-1985) and Minnie McKee established the first Black-owned club in Charlotte, the Excelsior Club, in 1944. The club became the leading private black social club in the Southeast, hosting notable musicians like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and James Brown. “Jimmie McKee was an early visionary in protecting and providing equal opportunities for African Americans,” current owner Darius Anderson said. “For more than 70 years, it was the place to be for Black professionals, artists, and politicians thinking about running for office.”
This community mural project for the residents and businesses of Historic West End was funded by the City of Charlotte Placemaking Grant.