The recently-renamed Langston Blvd is getting a larger-than-life mural of its namesake, Black abolitionist John M. Langston.
The public artwork commemorates the struggle for racial equality in Arlington and the renaming of Route 29, previously named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Work on the outdoor public art is set to finish within the next week and a half, Langston Boulevard Alliance executive director Ginger Brown said. The mural adorns a wall on the side of swimming store Sport Fair (5010 Langston Blvd), which was chosen for its location in the historically Black neighborhood of Hall’s Hill, as well as its visibility from the road.
The new name and mural pay tribute to Langston, who was Virginia’s first Black congressional representative and served as the first dean of Howard University’s law school and the first president of Virginia State University.
It will also incorporate the places and moments in Arlington’s history of racism and racial progress. The Langston Boulevard Alliance says it worked with the artist, D.C. native Kaliq Crosby, to include depictions of Arlington’s Freedman’s Village, established after the Civil War, the segregation of the Hall’s Hill neighborhood and the integration of public schools.
“There is a significant piece of the mural that… came [about] during the design process,” Brown said. “The historic John M. Langston School will be included in the mural. It is the school where all of the Hall’s Hill children went before the Stratford School was integrated.”
About a block from the mural, the elementary school for Black children operated until Arlington County closed it in 1966 as part of its desegregation plan. Today it is the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street), which also houses alternative high school programming.
A ribbon cutting for the mural, which was co-sponsored by Arlington Arts and Arlington Economic Development, is slated for later this week. Crosby has completed other racial justice and civil rights-themed murals in the D.C. area, including a recent mural of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman in Dupont Circle.
The Langston Boulevard Alliance will celebrate the renaming of the corridor next month with a pair of public events on Saturday, Oct. 2: a walking tour of Langston Blvd’s racial history and a fall festival at Woodstock Park featuring food, music and family-friendly activities.
There will also be an art gallery featuring the works of local Black artists at Dominion Lighting (5053 Langston Blvd) from Oct. 2-31.
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