In January 2017, the historic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant removed their mural that featured Barack Obama, Donnie Simpson, Chuck Brown, and Bill Cosby. When asked why the entire mural was removed rather than just a portion, the artist in residence at Ben’s Chili Bowl, W. Ellington Felton, told Washingtonian, “Obama’s not in office. It’s the end of an era.” There was also much criticism of including Cosby, who is now standing trial in Pennsylvania for sexual assault allegations.
The mural remained from 2012 to 2017, and a new temporary one emerged in April 2017, featuring Washington Wizards basketball players Bradley Beal and John Wall. Now, news has broken of what faces will be seen in the upcoming mural. Revealed by Washingtonian, see which celebrities will be on the new mural, listed below:
- Muhammad Ali
- Marion Barry
- Chuck Brown
- Dave Chappelle
- Roberta Flack
- Dick Gregory
- Taraji P. Henson
- Eleanor Holmes Norton
- Barack Obama
- Michelle Obama
- Russ Parr
- Donnie Simpson
- Harriet Tubman
- Jim Vance
This new mural will be called, “The Torch,” and will feature Harriet Tubman holding a lantern that spreads light onto the other figures featured.
In an interview with Washingtonian, muralist Aniekan Udofia said that there were plans to include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Udofia said, “This is the first time I’ve put my foot down, and said I’m not going to do a ‘Black History Month’ mural. The same faces we always see, the ones that are trapped in Black History Month. This is not a memorial. D.C. has enough memorials. This is a celebration of life, of the living, of the living history the Obamas brought us.”
To choose which celebrities would be in the new mural, Ben’s Chili Bowl offered a poll to the public for them to decide. Celebrities in the poll included Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Frederick Douglass, and Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias.
• Here’s Everyone We Know Will Be Included On Ben’s Chili Bowl’s New Mural [Washingtonian]
• Ben’s Chili Bowl removes Bill Cosby, Obama mural [Curbed DC]
• Ben’s Chili Bowl’s new mural, revealed [Curbed DC]