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11 / The Urban Experience

Tribute to Jackie Robinson
Tribute to Jackie Robinson
Artist / Origin David McShane (American, b. ca. 1970)
Region: North America
Date 1997
Material Mural
Medium: Painting
Dimensions H: 30 ft. (9.1 m.); W: 24 ft. (7.3 m.)
Location 2803 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA
Credit © 1997 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / David McShane Photo © JackRamsdale.com

expert perspective

Jane GoldenExecutive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Additional Resources

Golden, Jane, et al. Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.

Golden, Jane, et al. More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006.

The Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, PA, Web site. http://www.muralarts.org.

Tribute to Jackie Robinson

» David McShane (American, b. ca. 1970)

In 1984, the city of Philadelphia established an agency dedicated to urban renewal through public art projects.

Now known as the Mural Arts Program, this organization works to clean up graffiti-scarred walls around the city, especially in historically neglected poor or minority neighborhoods, by painting over them with vibrant murals. One of the goals of the Mural Arts Program has been to include neighborhood residents in the planning and making of their own murals. This has helped to ensure the relevance of individual works of art to their respective locations as well as to the people who will live with them on a daily basis, fostering community and civic pride in the process. The Mural Arts Program has created more than 2,800 murals all over Philadelphia, and has served as a model for other similar agencies in cities around the world.

Broad Street is a major thoroughfare that runs through the center of Philadelphia, passing thorough numerous and diverse neighborhoods. The many murals along Broad Street honor civic ideals, celebrate the contributions of certain ethnic communities, and memorialize individuals whose life stories resonate with neighborhood residents. This mural, Tribute to Jackie Robinson, funded by the Philadelphia Phillies and painted in 1997 by artist David McShane, fills the entire side of a three-story building in a part of North Philadelphia that is home to a large African American population. As the first player to desegregate Major League Baseball in 1947, Robinson became a hero of the Civil Rights movement. After retiring from the sport, he worked to improve underserved African American neighborhoods with a mission clearly in line with that of the Mural Arts Program itself. McShane has said that he chose to paint the image in black and white as a reminder of Robinson’s struggle in a racially divided America. In the mural, Robinson is depicted sliding dramatically into home plate.

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