Landmark mural celebrating Black history will be updated in Destination Crenshaw project

A group poses for a photo at the "Pull Up at the Wall" event in South Los Angeles.
Artists gather Saturday near the mural known as “Our Mighty Contribution” during the “Pull Up at the Wall” event in South Los Angeles. The artwork, which was completed in 2002, will be updated as part of the $100-million Destination Crenshaw project.
(Lee Vuitton)

The mural stands 10 feet tall and stretches more than 780-feet along Crenshaw Boulevard in the heart of South L.A. It features striking images of Frederick Douglas, Harriett Tubman, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a host of other heroes of the Black community.

“Our Mighty Contribution,” as the artwork is known, has stood as a powerful representation of African American history and neighborhood pride since it was completed in 2002.

For the record:

11:38 a.m. April 30, 2023The original version of this story said the “Our Mighty Contribution” mural on Crenshaw Boulevard stretched 7,800-feet. It is 780-feet long.

On Saturday, dozens of artists who participated in its creation over the years gathered at the site between 49th and 51st streets for an event called “Pull Up at the Wall” to celebrate both the history of the mural and plans to update the artwork — now faded and peeling — as part of the $100-million Destination Crenshaw project, a 1.3-mile cultural corridor and monument to Black L.A.


Destination Crenshaw is expected to be completed in 2024.

“I’m really happy that the wall is going to be preserved and updated,” said Mark Steven Greenfield, 72, who was one of the original mural artists. “I’m kind of excited about the idea of new artists coming in and doing things on it. Because our original vision was that the wall itself would evolve over time. It was kind of like this community billboard.”

Community members pose for a photograph at the "Pull Up at the Wall" event Saturday in South L.A.
Artists gather near the mural known as “Our Mighty Contribution” in South Los Angeles on Saturday. “I’m really happy that the wall is going to be preserved and updated,” said Mark Steven Greenfield, 72, who was one of the original mural artists.
(Astrid Kayembe / Los Angeles Times)

The wall was originally a canvas for local graffiti artists but was later adopted by a group of painters, known as Rocking the Nation Crew, who helped come up with the idea of highlighting Black history with Crenshaw as its backdrop.

Though the mural is still in the design stages, senior art and exhibitions advisor Joy Simmons said that its new iteration will feature celebrities from Black Hollywood and local icons like the late Mayor Tom Bradley. It will also features depiction of a future Black L.A.

The mural will be “a visual timeline, like a movie, so to speak” of Black life in Los Angeles, said RTN member Eric “Cre8” Walker. Construction of a viewing platform is slated to begin in a few weeks, and the artwork is expected to be completed by early fall.

The historically Black neighborhood has already begun to gentrify and with the impending arrival of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line, known as the K Line, Walker and Greenfield agreed that it is increasingly important to preserve as much of the neighborhood’s history as possible.


“We understand that with the Metro, there’s going to be gentrification in this community ... so I think the idea of putting on this cultural footprint, prior to that type of gentrification is really valuable,” Greenfield said. “Maybe it will inspire people that are new to this neighborhood at some point to not only take pride in but to extend themselves creatively in terms of how can we add to that dialogue that has been established so many years ago.”

The mural project is part of the overall revitalization of the area and is across the street from what will be the 50th Street pocket park. In the works since 2017, the project involves hundreds of local residents and business owners and will feature dozens of commissioned artwork.

Among the participating artists are Alison Saar, Artis Lane, Brenna Youngblood and Kehinde Wiley, who painted President Obama’s 2018 portrait for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.

Aise Born, an artist, grew up marveling at “Our Mighty Contribution.” Although he didn’t have the chance to work on the mural, he’s excited to work on its new iteration and hopes young Angelenos will be inspired the way he was.

“If someone doesn’t know themselves, they don’t know their culture,” he said. “Looking at this wall, it’s like you can look back at the past, present and the future and have some kind of inspiration forward in life.”