Erik James Montgomery's 'King And Queens' Mural In Camden, New Jersey Hopes To Inspire Children They Can Do Anything
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- This assertion may not be a fair one, perhaps, it's not even accurate. But as a lifelong South Jersey resident, whose family even lived in the city of Camden for a few months, the prevailing thoughts when mentioning this New Jersey city bordering the Delaware River, are one's of poverty, crime and a lack of opportunity.
But an artist in the city is making sure that children growing up there don't allow those outside perceptions to become their reality.
If you find yourself driving along Federal Street in East Camden, right across from Woodrow Wilson High School, you'll notice something a little different in Dudley Grange Park. It's a mural, with gorgeous photos of smiling children who attend a pair of local elementary schools in front of flags of every country on earth.
"It's called King and Queens because I believe every child has within them the ability to be a king or a queen," Erik James Montgomery said. "I want them to know how regal they are."
Montgomery's motivation for the project was a simple one.
"Increase the level of awareness of these young people in the community to know that they are a value, worthy," Montgomery said. "And that in their pursuit of education they can do anything."
Vedra Chandler, project manager for the Camden Community Partnership worked on this project with Montgomery and sees this when looking at the completed work.
"There is so much more to this city and our youth and our people than I think people have the opportunity to know and visuals like this help us to tell our truest story," Chandler said.
Eyewitness News also heard from one of the precocious young stars of the exhibit, fourth-grader Acai Hornsby on what she sees when she looks at the mural.
"I see all beautiful young kids," Acai said.
We see those beautiful, bright-eyed smiling faces, too. Montgomery says that his art is his legacy, and his hope is that a hundred or two hundred years from now, he'll be remembered through his works as a man that cared enough about Camden to document it correctly.
Eyewitness News anchor Siafa Lewis reported on this story.
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