Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars Research the Western Addition’s Inspirations Murals

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This academic year the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars (EMDS) are gathering the stories of African American leaders depicted on the Inspirations mural outside of Ella Hill Hutch Community Center. In fall students drew names out of a hat and were tasked with researching individuals and writing biographies that they shared in their fall final presentations. This spring student teams are linked with living Inspirations so that all students have the opportunity to interview an African American leader. Bios and photos of individuals on the mural will be compiled into a book that will be shared with community members.

This project is a continuation of work started by community members Ms. Altheda Carrie and Mrs. Lynette White. Ms. Carrie and Mrs. White began collecting stories from the Inspirations mural years ago, when the City of San Francisco provided funding and District Supervisor Wendy Nelder was involved. That project was temporarily set aside during shifts in City leadership and funding sources, but it was eagerly picked up again when Ms. Carrie and Mrs. White brought it to USF as a possible collaboration. It is a natural outgrowth of the blossoming collaboration between EMDS, the Leo T. McCarthy Center and Engage San Francisco. Sociology Professor Stephanie Sears is the faculty director for the program and Leo T. McCarthy Center Associate Director for Community Engaged Learning, Andrea Wise is collaborating with Professor Sears on the partnership by facilitating class discussions on community assets and campus community partnerships.

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Championing New Deal Public Art

Urban Affairs faculty member Rachel Brahinsky contributed to this lovely mini-documentary on the life of Masha Zakheim, daughter of a New Deal artist and protector of many of San Francisco’s New Deal murals. Zakheim, who passed away in 2014, wrote the key text on the history of the Coit Tower murals, and was a champion of the kind of political public art that was funded by FDR’s New Deal.

In her urban history classes, Brahinsky explores the tension between public and private spending in the evolution of urban space, including art and architecture. She also serves on the board of directors for the Living New Deal Project, a non-profit group that is mapping New Deal art and infrastructure nationally. She was interviewed for the documentary by Laura Paull at 3200Stories, a cultural/political blog produced by the San Francisco Jewish Community Center’s