The crowd gathering Thursday afternoon at Washington Park knew of Dr. Margaret Taylor-Goss Burroughs and the impression she left the city of Chicago, as dozens took time to commemorate her life during a mural dedication.
Burroughs, a widely known artist and co-founder of what is now the DuSable Museum of African American History, died in Chicago in 2010 at age 95. The DuSable is widely considered the oldest museum of black culture in the country. Several at the mural dedication spoke highly of Burroughs and the legacy she leaves behind.
Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, told the crowd she believes that Burroughs is loving the mural and the community’s display of admiration for what she’s done for the city’s South Side. She also noted the advisory council has made it its mission to fulfill Burroughs’ wishes to have a U.S. postal stamp created in her honor.
“She wanted one, so this is our mission,” Butler said. “Dr. Burroughs is a giant, and this is a giant step toward that end.”
The creation of the mural was coordinated by artist/curator Aaron Hughes of the Stateville Correctional Center.
The project took about a year to complete, which Hughes said he is humbled to have been part of.
“I’m just honored that I had the opportunity follow in Dr. Burroughs footsteps,” he said. “She taught art at Stateville Prison.”
The mural was made possible through the Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project.
Butler said that when members of the advisory council were approached about the project, they only had two requests: have a mural with Dr. Burroughs and include the words, “Respect Life,” on it.
“As you can see, this is exactly what we have,” she said.
Tim King, a commissioner for the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, spoke of the project’s importance.
“Murals are really special for many reasons,” he said. “They tell stories; they inspire; they bring art to the public sphere—from India to Southeast Asia, from Egypt to Mexico. Here, as we stand in the historic Washington Park on the South Side of Chicago, murals tell our history.”
Born Victoria Margaret Taylor in St. Rose, La., in 1915, Burroughs—who moved with her family to Chicago in 1920 when she was a child—was credited with archiving the racial divide through art. Burroughs was very active in the community for years advocating, creating and teaching. Even after her retirement, she tirelessly worked to raise funds to support the DuSable and other cultural centers.
“This mural today continues to tell her story and will do so for future generations,” King said.