The Bedford Downtown Alliance is pairing with Graffiti HeArt and Crossroads Universal on a public mural project with an Underground Railroad theme. The historical significance of the Underground Railroad in Bedford, Ohio, is a story untold to most. Bedford was known for its strong anti-slavery sentiment, which is why this part of town became a stop along the Underground Railroad.

One such story from the history of Bedford and the Underground Railroad was that of a man named Julius Caesar Tibbs who was born into slavery in Virginia in 1812, and whose portrait will be included in the mural. Tibbs escaped a plantation and was later found at the farm, in a large hollow tree by Joseph Burns in Bedford, Ohio. There the Burns family gave Tibbs food and provided him with a place to stay on their farm.  He lived in Bedford another 50 years and was well known as an orator, philosopher, and humorist.

The mural will also include a portrait of Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglass. Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist who was born into slavery. Tubman escaped and then made 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses referred to as the Underground Railroad.

Graffiti HeArt engaged participating artists Stina Aleah, Davon Brantley, and Christa Childs to team up on this project. The three artists formed a collaboration with the help of Stamy Paul, President & Founder of Graffiti HeArt.

Stina, the lead artist, is an extremely talented and experienced artist and muralist and spent some time in Miami where she grew her talents and expanded her portfolio before moving back to Northeast Ohio. Davon is a graduate of Cleveland Institute of Art, and an accomplished artist and art instructor. In addition to participating within the BLM street mural, Davon recently participated in the Graffiti HeArt Euclid Green mural along Euclid Avenue near East 167th. Christina is a creative and talented artist who has experience in a variety of mediums and will be expanding her portfolio further with this mural project.

The mural will be installed on a one-story building located along Willis street across from the post office. The building is owned by Matthew Stewart, owner of Sprit Apothecary, Concoctions, and the founder of The Pagan Pride festival. The building sits along the railroad tracks where President Abraham Lincoln came through in 1861 while on his way to Washington for his inauguration.

The artists will begin the preliminary layout of the mural design over the next week and will be painting over the next 2-3 weeks, painting during the morning hours.

This is the first of two murals that Graffiti HeArt will be curating for Bedford Downtown Alliance this year. For more information and to donate to the Bedford Downtown Alliance please click here.

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