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East Town Mural

621 Langston Hughes, Joplin, MO

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This mural, titled "Belonging to All The Hands Who Build", covers the east side of the historic Earl Smith's grocery store building. The title comes from a poem by Langston Hughes. a famous former resident of East Town. It was truly an East Town project that was dedicated in October 2016.

The lady in the center of this image is Betty Smith a local historian. From what I've read I'm guessing it is hard to overstate the role Betty Smith has played in promoting the history of East Town.

x The Duke Ellington Orchestra is featured in this scene representing their visit to Lincoln High School in 1939. Marion Dial, a long time principle at Lincoln and the first black person elected to the Joplin City Council stands in a representation of the school entry in the lower right. Melissa Cuther, who launched the city's first Emancipation Day celebration looks on from the left. She also started the Washington Carver Nursery in 1952 so black working mothers had a trusted place for the children while they were at work. x This man at the desk represents late Clovis Steele who wrote about East Town in letters to the Joplin Globe among other things. Highway 66 runs right in front of the desk. The printing in the boarded up window next to the desk lists the artists and sponsors of the project.

The lead artist on this mural was Kyle McKenzie, he was assisted by Devon Estes, Jenny Journeycake, and Aaron Skapik. They also had the help of many East Town residents. Local residents who wanted to help were invited to show up and hangout for a while waiting for a chance to grab a paint brush and join the creative fun. That sounds like a great way to spend some time!

The mural is located on E Broadway St.& Mineral Ave.

Photo(s): 2016



x About Us We started traveling Historic U.S. Route 66 as a destination in 2009. It's like a 2,400 mile long drive back in time from Chicago to Santa Monica! more
xDid You Know: Many parts of the old 4 lane Route 66 were reverted to a 2 lane road after 66 was realigned to the interstate. In many places the abandoned lanes are still there.