Everyday People of Lynchburg, VA
This mural honors the contributions of employed workers and community members in the 5th Street neighborhoods. These everyday people are hair dressers, gardeners, educators, artists, and more, and their work in the community is important and valued. Some of the characters depicted here represent specific people, while others are a nod to significant professions. The patterns and floral elements found in the artwork and accompanying bench represent the cultural diversity of the 5th Street community and our mixed heritage.
Mural artist Christina Davis collaborated with students from the University of Lynchburg art department, who created metal elements. Other mural partners include the 5th Street Community Development Corporation, Vector Space, Downtown Lynchburg Association, James T. Davis Paint & Design Center, and the City of Lynchburg.
Volunteer help was provided by community members, including members of the Junior League of Lynchburg.
The characters in the mural are represented by the following historical figures and occupations:
- Queena Stovall – An American folk artist born in Amherst and known for depicting everyday events in the lives of both white and black families in rural settings. She lived in Lynchburg and Elon, and her painting career began after taking an art class at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. (wikipedia)
- Mrs. Joy and other bakers throughout history – Tarsha Joyner bakes sweet treats at Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats, and has appeared numerous times on The Food Network. She is a graduate of the University of Lynchburg.
- Aubrey “Chub” Barbour, Sr. – Chub was affectionately known as the Mayor of Tinbridge Hill, where he managed the community garden at Yoder Center among other contributions. Mr. Barbour passed away soon after the mural was completed in 2023. Read and learn more about Chub’s impact on the community here and here.
- Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers – Fifth Street was the community’s health and medical center as the “Main Street” for Central Virginia’s African American communities between the late 19th century and the middle of the 20th century. More than two dozen black physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and lawyers practiced on the street. The Johnson Health Center and 5th Street Community Health Center are new additions to the neighborhood. Read more about the medical history of 5th Street here.
- James Mozee and other educators – Mr. Mozee was the second building Principal at Dunbar High School. Biggers School stood on 5th Street where the current Biggers Park is located from 1881 until 1967. Read more about Principal Mozee and Biggers School.
- Delivery drivers and postal workers – There are many essential workers that quietly keep any successful neighborhood running. Postal workers, transportation providers, and waste management are just a few of the everyday heroes that are essential to the community.
- Anne Spencer – an American poet, teacher, civil rights activist, librarian, and gardener. While the Spencers lived on Pierce Street off of 12th Street, their impact on the 5th Street and larger Lynchburg community was significant. Learn more here.
- Blacksmith – A former blacksmith shop once resided at the mural location across from Joseph Nichols Tavern. Today blacksmith work is still done on 5th Street, at the makerspace Vector Space.
- Hairdressers and barbers – Fifth Street has a history of black entrepreneurship. In 1904 there were 23 black barbers in Lynchburg. Today Wilson’s Barber Shop and Nubian Citi Beauty Salon operate on 5th Street. Read more about business and commerce on 5th Street.
- Musicians – Fifth Street was the social center of African American life in Central Virginia for decades. Several theaters and music halls have called 5th Street home.
- Residents – 5th Street is a mix of residential and commercial use. Residential variations include historic houses, apartment buildings, single family homes, and new condominiums. Residents of 5th Street include multiple generations from a variety of backgrounds. This neighborhood is rich with cultural history and modern day life.