In September 2019, the Mayor’s Office directed the Fort Worth Art Commission (FWAC) to gather community input and make a recommendation in response to a citizen’s concern about the portrayal of African Americans on murals at the Will Rogers Memorial Center (WRMC).The historic buildings and tile murals were created as part of the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration.
On November 21, 2019, at a well-attended public hearing hosted by the Art Commission at the Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods, a diverse gathering of community members spoke in favor of leaving the murals in place and underscored the importance of providing historical context at the site.
An Advisory Panel appointed by the Art Commission and composed of representatives from the NAACP, community members and city staff, recommended permanent plaques inset into the brick pattern on both plazas in mid-2020. Introductory plaques would provide context for the murals and describe the 1936 design process, while twelve scene-specific plaques with text would provide a balanced and more accurate cultural history.
Final text was developed after more than two years of research and review by local culture and Texas history experts for historic accuracy and community focus groups representing the diverse cultures depicted in the murals. In advance of a widely promoted public hearing on June 12, 2023 also at the Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods, the Commission’s endorsed draft text was made available on the FWPA website and through social media. With input from the public hearing, revised text was again published and promoted. The Art Commission approved the final plaque design and text on July 17, 2023. Follow this link to view the approved design in detail.
City staff reported the FWAC’s action to Fort Worth City Council at their August 15, 2023 work session, recommending moving forward with fabrication, with which they concurred. The project was recently covered by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Fort Worth Report.
WRMC Interpretation Advisory Panel Members: