By Jackie Hampton,
On Wednesday Attorney Yemi L. Kings held a mural dedication ceremony depicting images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Wiley Evers and Rev. R.L.T. Smith, Sr. which was painted on the side of his law office by local artist Christopher Windfield.
Members of the community and media gathered outside the office of Kings and Associates, LLC located at 2703 Martin Luther King Drive for a close-up and to take pictures with their cell phones of the mural which was completed just a few weeks prior to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday celebration and a few more weeks prior to observing Black History Month.
Kings said the idea of the mural came to him over a year or two ago but he didn’t know an artist to hire for the job. He told The Mississippi Link that he found his artist through a Facebook post asking for recommendations. Once found, he moved forward.
When asked what inspired him to choose those particular legends he said one reason was the location of his law office and the legends for whom the streets were named. He said, “Freedom Corner is around the corner from my office, at the intersection of MLK Drive and Medgar Evers.”
Kings, who is the grandson of the late Civil Rights icon, Rev. R.L.T. Smith Sr., said, “I also wanted to pay tribute to my grandfather who contributed so much to civil rights.”
Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes spoke of the life work of Evers, whom he said gave his life to make sure black people had opportunities to succeed in life and Dr. King who stayed on the battlefield, having given his life for freedom and justice for all.
Stokes then spoke of Rev. R.L.T. Smith. He said, “When there were boycotts in Jackson a lot of black people didn’t have money to buy food. He provided food for many of them. As a property owner in west Jackson, he provided housing for blacks when they had nowhere else to live.” Stokes commended Kings for keeping the legacy of Rev. R.L.T. Smith, Sr. alive and for continuing to invest in the community.
Prior to asking Rev. Royce Smith, son of the late Rev. R.L.T. Smith, Sr. and father of the late Robert Shuler Smith to bless the food that was being served at the dedication, Kings asked for a moment of silence for his cousin, his mentor, the late Robert Shuler Smith, former D.A. of Hinds County.
When Rev. Royce Smith was asked by The Mississippi Link what his feelings were regarding the mural dedication Smith replied, “It brought me back to thoughts about the boycotts of the 60’s when my dad was fighting for blacks to have equal rights.” He recalled how bricks were thrown in their windows at home and at the grocery store his dad owned. Smith said he always listened to his dad and tried to follow suit as a youngster growing up.
He said, “I remember the times when public water fountains were labeled ‘for whites’ and another ‘for blacks,’ and when blacks could not try on clothes in stores before purchasing them.
Smith also said that his son, Robert Shuler, would be very proud of the mural depicting his grandfather, Dr. King and Medgar Evers.
Kings said he was very pleased with the dedication which he thought was excellent.