JOHN LEWIS MURAL
"You are a light."
"You are a light."
PROJECT NAME: Renaissance Walk
Our Plan: Turn an address into a Landmark
Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood is the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. The positive impact borne from this community is felt the world over. It’s a place we must celebrate, preserve, care for, and protect because on the line lies individual and civic identity, collective history, the legacy of millions, the heritage of a community, and — importantly — the lessons of the movement.
“Well, I felt that it was fitting and appropriate to have my re-election campaign office on Auburn Avenue to send a strong message that this place, this community, this piece of our history, must be preserved for generations yet unborn and that we must save it to inspire others. It’s important that we get people to recognize the progress we have made and the progress we have yet to make. I believe that those symbols and signs, the buildings, the stones, the institutions along Auburn, they’re all important.”
— Congressman John Lewis on Sidewalk Radio with Gene Kansas
Sweet Auburn, which in the 1950s was heralded as the center of the universe for black culture and commerce in America, went into steady decline after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1968, giving African-Americans the right to live their lives as they saw fit, with many leaving the neighborhood. In the 1960s & ‘70s, the construction of I-75/85 brought with it further destruction and displacement via bifurcation of the neighborhood, splitting it in two. For the next 40 years, it was in decline. In a slow build back up, monuments like the John Lewis HERO mural, by The Loss Prevention, bring hope. This one also brings a message.
When Gene Kansas | Commercial Real Estate was hired to market and lease Renaissance Walk, we were not given a blank canvas; we were given an empty dream, a property that desperately needed love. It was going to be an uphill battle, and we needed a win. We also needed cachet, creditworthiness, confidence, optimism, and a genuine way to say, “Auburn is the place to be!”
A major victory came when we were able to attract U.S. Congressman John Lewis and his 2012 re-election campaign headquarters to the property. Efforts between Congressman Lewis’ campaign, Gene Kansas, and the super-talents of The Loss Prevention resulted in a 70-foot-high mural of the Civil Rights icon, transforming Renaissance Walk from an address into a Landmark. And, we’re also happy to say Congressman Lewis won the election.
The ability to work within the arts to celebrate achievements in human rights by working together with a community that pays tribute to an icon is incredibly fulfilling. This project is a great source of pride for us, and it added great value to the property, a spirit of renewed hope in Sweet Auburn, and it contributes to the cultural catalogue of those who visit.