Durham Murals Celebrating Black History And Culture
Learn Durham’s Black history through the faces of cultural leaders beautifully displayed in murals throughout the city.
In Durham, any blank space can become a canvas, and it is common to see murals on walls, crosswalks, and electrical boxes. Not only do these murals add vibrant colors and energy to this city, but they also tell stories that need to be told. This guide highlights Durham public art dedicated to celebrating Black history, culture, and artists.
Durham Civil Rights Mural
In 2013, 30 members of Durham’s community came together to create the first official public art project in the city of Durham. Led by artist Brenda Miller Holmes and Dr. Benjamin Speller of NCCU, the Durham Civil Rights mural is a celebration of Durham’s African American and Civil Rights history. You can find the mural outside of Durham Arts Council.
“Baba Chuck” By the Durham Mural Crew
“Baba Chuck” Davis was one of the pioneers of traditional African dance in America. He traveled throughout Africa to study with many leading artists. In 1983, Davis returned to his native NC and founded the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham. He loved Durham, and he promoted peace, love, and respect for everyone. You could often see him around town in colorful West African clothing. You can find this work by the Durham Mural Crew on the corner of Main St. and Corcoran.
Pauli Murray By Brett Cook
Artist Brett Cook has painted a number of Pauli Murray murals. Murray was a pioneer of the American Civil Rights movement, and a lawyer, Black activist, feminist, poet, and priest. She spent many of her formative years in Durham, and you can still visit the house she grew up in. She is the subject of the documentary called “My Name is Pauli Murray” which is produced by the same women behind the critically acclaimed “RBG.” You can find this mural along Foster St. in downtown Durham.
Phil Freelon By Candy Carver
Artist Candy Carver depicts Phil Freelon, an architect who is best known for his work on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Some of his other contributions to Durham’s architectural landscape include the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the Durham County Public Health building, the GoDurham station, and many more. Freelon passed away in 2019, but his legacy will live forever. You can find this mural at UHILL Walls.
Little Brother By Darius Quarles
Artist Darius Quarles created this mural of the Little Brother trio, Phonte Coleman, Rapper Big Pooh, and Patrick Douthit. The trio met in the ’90s as students at NCCU. Though their music is not as mainstream as other artists in the genre, they are widely respected in the hip hop community. The group split in 2007, but reunited in Durham at the 2018 Art of Cool Festival. And a year later, Phonte and Big Pooh released their fifth studio album “May the Lord Watch.” You can find this mural at UHILL Walls.
Betty Davis By Scott Nurkin
Scott Nurkin, an artist and mural painter from Chapel Hill, NC, created this depiction of Betty Davis at UHILL Walls. Born Betty Mabry in Durham, NC, Betty Davis was a pioneer of American soul and funk music. Because of her unapologetically sexual attitude, she was barred from performing on television and many radio stations refused to play her music. Now, she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves. Her surname is from her brief marriage to legendary jazz musician Miles Davis.
J. Cole By JEKS ONE
Known as one of the best muralists in North Carolina, JEKS ONE painted this stunning work of J. Cole, American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. J. Cole grew up in Fayetteville, the artist is from Greensboro, and the mural is in Durham — a true Carolina collaboration. You can find this mural at UHILL Walls.
Durham Blues Legends By Cameron Kramer
Created as an homage to Durham’s rich blues history, the mural by Cameron Kramer features Blind Boy Fuller (left) and Reverend Blind Gary Harris (right.) John Dee Holeman, a Blues legend, stands in the middle with his portrait. You can find this mural outside of The Blue Note Grill.
Need more information about Durham's murals? Stop by the Visitor Info Center and pick up our Public Art & Inspiration Guide.