One street in north St. Louis is getting a facelift and honoring community members at the same time.
Visitors to Page Boulevard will notice portraits have replaced many pieces of plywood on the doors and windows of vacant buildings. The portraits feature African American men and women from St. Louis that have found success and fame while also helping their community.
“Our community, especially our youth, need to see positive images. And so what better place to put positive images on buildings that have fallen apart?” explained Malik Ahmed, CEO of Better Family Life, the group behind the portrait project.
Better Family Life plans to rehab dozens of homes on Page Boulevard, but knew fundraising for the project would take time. Meanwhile, the portraits serve as a first step to beautification, known as the “Beyond the Wall” Mural project.
“It’s a time of promoting peace in the streets, it’s a time of giving back,” Ahmed said. “It’s a time of helping and making the community be proud of itself.”
Longtime local artist, Christopher Green, painted the images, which he hopes will inspire children living in the neighborhood.
“It’s a positive image, no graffiti and gang sings, nothing like that,” Green said. “They [kids] can do a little research on these people and find out… they're actually from these neighborhoods, probably inspire them.”
Several new portraits were unveiled Thursday night, at Better Family Life’s kick-off event for the organization's annual Family Week. Those portraits included poet Maya Angelou, Olympic boxers Leon and Michael Spinks, and Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, Dr. Kelvin Adams.
Already, more than 30 portraits have been installed along Page Boulevard. Another two dozen unveiled Thursday night will be installed in the coming days.
Better Family Life’s Family Week continues with several events planned for this weekend and next week, including sporting events, a talent showcase, and PeaceFest to end the festivities scheduled for next weekend. To learn more, visit the Better Family Life website.