Lincoln Center’s beautiful mural continues to inspire

By Kelly Kelbly, Interim Director of Parks & Recreation

In 1954, the Supreme Court ordered the integration of schools through the landmark Brown v Board of Education case. It wasn’t until the 1960s that our local black high school, Lincoln High, faced the order’s impact. 

Lincoln High and the surrounding neighborhood had served as the black community’s hub for decades. Resistance was felt in both the black and white communities, ultimately leading to the school’s closure. In 1967, the school district began leasing the land to the city as a park, with the town eventually buying the property in 1978. 

We have since seen the Lincoln Recreation Center’s renovation and growth as a symbol of unity, togetherness, and community. In the mid-1990s, Lillian “Jean” Clark Robinson, the center’s former supervisor, commissioned a mural in the original gymnasium to honor iconic black leaders.

Texas A&M architecture professor Russell Reid created the mural, which became known as “Heroes.” The work was dedicated in 1995, and Reid added Robinson’s image about a year later.

Maya Angelou once wrote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” As part of African American History Month, we wanted to highlight historical figures — national and local — who fought to “do better” and are represented in the mural.  

  • Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee University and was revered as the smartest and most educated black man of his time.  
  • Barbara Jordan was the first African American congresswoman from the South. 
  • Martin Luther King Jr. used the power of speech and calm to fight for equal rights peacefully. 
  • Gen. Colin Powell was the first African American secretary of state.  
  • Maya Angelou used poetry and the gift of speech as a civil rights activist.  
  • W.A. Tarrow, the surrounding park’s namesake, was Lincoln High’s principal during segregation. 
  • Lillian “Jean” Clark Robinson fought for increased services in her community.  

The faces and stories illustrated in the simple mural inspire us to know better and do better. 

We encourage you to visit the Lincoln Recreation Center to view this piece of history, then talk with your children and neighbors about the historical significance of those on the mural and how to continue their mission.  


About the Blogger

Interim Director Kelly Kelbly is in her 20th year with the College Station Parks & Recreation Department. A native of Gilmer, Kelly is a 1998 graduate of Texas A&M.


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