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Phoenix artist unveils mural of civil rights movement

PHOENIX — Dozens of Valley civil rights leaders gathered at the Phoenix Public Library on Friday morning for the unveiling of a new mural marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The mural features several of the central figures in the movement, including Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and President Lyndon Johnson. It was painted by Phoenix artist Antonio Pasos, who wants the piece to help people remember what the 1960s were like.

“I wanted to give people the image of it being a scary time — uncertain, violent, totally unfair and totally unjust,” he said. “I want people to go back in time and look at what we all went through to get where we are.”

One image on the painting that stands out to him is that of Walter Gadsden, an innocent bystander who is being bitten by a police dog during a march in Birmingham, Ala.

“That picture notices that this man is being calm. He’s being like, ‘Ok, your dog is biting me, but I didn’t do anything,'” said Pasos. “This guy’s being attacked by a dog and he’s not freaking out! He’s just like ‘Hey! What’s going on?’ I would be screaming if the dog were attacking me.”

The mural will appear at several Valley civil rights events going on Wednesday. It will then be at the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix through July 8.

Here is a list of events that are happening over the next week as part of the “Civil Rights Act of 1964 Golden Anniversary Arizona Celebration”:

• Saturday, June 28: Voter Registration/Civic Engagement Kickoff. 9 a.m. Arizona State Capitol lawn, 1700 W Washington St., Phoenix. Free Admission.

• Sunday, June 29: Muti-faith, multi-racial and multi-generational worship Service. 3 p.m. Historic Tanner Chapel AME Church, 20 S. 8th St., Phoenix. Free Admission.

• Sunday, June 29: CRA 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner. 5 to 7 p.m. First Institutional Baptist Church, 1141 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix. To purchase tickets to this event, visit

• Wednesday July 2: Civil Rights Act 1964: Golden Anniversary Arizona Community Celebration, 5:30 to 8 p.m. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 4156 E. Grant St., Phoenix. Free admission.

Click here for more information on these events.