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Inspiring the next generation: School murals take Black history to new places

Inspiring the next generation: School murals take Black history to new places
Inspiring the next generation: School murals take Black history to new places 02:21

CHICAGO (CBS) -- From the classroom to a canvas on school hallway walls, some Chicago teachers and students are taking Black history to new places. 

As CBS 2's Steven Graves reports, what started as a small idea is only growing bigger and more popular. 

A section of hallway in Englewood's Stagg Elementary can be called a visual feast, feeding students' intellectual appetite and driving a hunger for more knowledge in third drader Divine Afeni. 

"I'm seeing my skin color in generations," she said. "It makes me feel happy."

Her goal is to become an attorney one day. She knows it's possible because her ancestors did it. And she sees it everyday in these wall murals, titled "The Black Chicago Museum."

"It's been very impactful," said teacher LaNaye Lawson. 

Lawson had students and artists illustrate a timeline into five segments. Starting in the 1700s they show the story of John Baptist Point DuSable, who is considered the city's first settler and trader.

Other Black-focused narratives through painted pictures take onlookers on a decades-long journey from when Southerners migrated to Chicago to the race riots to the Civil War and Reconstruction era.

"It really delves deep into the history of Black people specifically in Chicago," said Lawson. 

Lawson said it's a viewpoint that is rare to find in the city. Now, more people coming to see the open-to-the-public exhibit, which was done in 2017, and the newly finished one at Carter School of Excellence.

Last year's declaration of Juneteenth -- a day many Blacks consider the true end of slavery --  as a federal holiday has only drawn more interest in this Chicago history shaping generations to come.

"I see how much people did and how they did it on their own and it inspires me," said fifth grader Chloe Jones.

"When they know where they come from and they know the power they have within them, they can achieve anything," said Lawson. 

The goal is to inspire even more kids and get this into other Chicago Public schools. There is also hope to get the mural in one space, a buliding called "The Black Chicago Museum."

The murals are made through donations, and in one case, the school's principal paid for it. 

Find more information about the murals and how to visit them yourself here.  

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