EMU comes together to paint history

Student carefully colors in artist's work for the EMU's first Unity Mural

“Today makes a special day,” said student body vice president Larry Borum. “We all came here with the intent of making a change on this campus.”

Almost 200 volunteers from all over Eastern Michigan University and the Ypsilanti community came to dedicate their time and efforts to paint 300 square feet of canvas. The mural is meant to represent the timeline of EMU and Ypsilanti divided into three sections: past activism, present, and future ambitions.

On Feb. 11 from 12:30-6:30 p.m., the center Bowen field house was transformed into a painting workshop with about 24 long tables divided into four rows. Each table had a piece of the canvas mural with a colorless picture already drawn on. Painter volunteers were provided a picture of the finished product and applied paint according to a color key.

The project was first introduced and planned by the EMU Unity Mural Collaboration -- a student-led project supported by EMU faculty, administration, and community organizations in the wake of the racist graffiti found on an outside wall of King Hall during the Fall 2016 semester.

The making of the art piece is to engage individuals who do not have the time to attend rallies, vigils, or teach-ins but want to show their compassion for the community.

Scotty Schlueter, the designer of the entire mural, spent months putting together the artwork and pictures. He worked with the university archives and many other organizations to incorporate photos from decades old to present into the mural, making it the first of its kind at EMU.

“Every image that is on these panels is because someone from the community wanted them there,” said Schlueter. “We did our very upmost to take your ideas to turn them into something really cool.”

Painting was nothing new to EMU freshman Daniel Sasala, but he found the event as an opportunity to paint something with a bigger impact.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and obviously its for a good cause because of what happened last year,” Sasala said. “So by having this mural, it’s a really good sign for us as a community to come together and celebrate unity and differences.”

Ever since the racist graffiti incident, many organizations on campus found their own way to cope and move forward.

The Early College Alliance at EMU volunteers said they felt greatly impacted by the racist graffiti incident as it was on sprayed where their office is located in King Hall. As a result, they created and hold the event called “Unity Community” every year.

Volunteers came from all over EMU and Ypsilanti area, including athletes from various EMU teams, the honors college, Ypsilanti representatives and more. Twelve local restaurants catered the event like Insomnia Cookies, Domino’s Pizza, and Jimmy Johns. Anyone was welcome to attend this free event filled with music, inspirational speakers, food, and togetherness.

“Unity means, to me, bringing people together creating unlikely alliances and bridging our divides,” said one of the event coordinators Desmin Roberson. “I believe that’s how we are going to change the world… [this is] living proof of what I want to see in the world.”

The finished mural will be installed in the McKenny hall student lounge area over winter break for the public.

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