Ashland Schools Foundation is proud to support the new Truth to Power Club mural at Ashland High School. This bright and impactful mural on Mountain Avenue highlights eight People of Color who have helped shape our local community, and also fulfills the club’s “Promise to Aidan”: a commitment to honor Aidan Ellison’s life by confronting racism and working toward a community in which another such tragedy would be unimaginable.
The ASF Grant Committee voted to give the AHS club an $808 grant to be used for supplies, paint, drop cloths, refreshments for volunteer artists, and anti-vandalism paint cover.
The project was led by club presidents Isadora Millay and Anya Moore, and faculty advisor Shane Abrams. The mural team secured approval for the public art from the Ashland School District, Public Arts Commission, and Ashland City Council.
From the grant application:
“It will serve as a memorial to him, and a constant reminder that we must actively work against systems of oppression if we want to ensure the safety and belonging of each member of our community.”
The mural features eight portraits, including a larger circular portrait of Ellison on the far north end. The individuals depicted include:
- Winona LaDuke – an AHS alum, activist, and author enrolled with the Ojibwe Nation of Minnesota, and the first Green Party candidate to obtain an electoral vote for vice president.
- Walidah Imarisha – a Black writer, activist, educator who presented a program at Pacific University in February focused on the “hidden history” that answers the question: “Why aren’t there more Black people in Oregon?”
- Tehlor Kay Mejia – a first-generation Mexican-American and LGBTQ author.
- Lawson Fusao Inada – a Japanese-American poet, and the fifth Oregon poet laureate.
- Michelle Alexander – AHS alum and civil rights lawyer who wrote “The New Jim Crow,” a national bestseller.
- Gina DuQuenne – Ashland City Councilor and founder of Southern Oregon Pride, as well as the first openly queer Black woman to be elected to the Ashland City Council.
- Agnes Baker Pilgrim – a Native American elder from the Takelma tribe, who is honored for her contributions in public health and environmental activism.
- Aidan Ellison – AHS alum for whom the mural is dedicated and inspired by.
Also from the grant application:
“My students and I hope to honor a young person, an AHS alum, who was wrongly taken from our community. We also hope to inspire the student body of AHS to see themselves as change-makers by celebrating the talented, innovative, and dedicated leaders of our Valley. Finally, we hope to contribute to an ethos of inclusion and antiracism.”
The dedication ceremony on November 23, 2021 featured live music, speeches, and performances, and also a message of thanks from Aidan Ellison’s mother. The event marked the completion of the six-month, student-led project dedicated to celebrating People of Color and inspiring discussion about race in the Rogue Valley. Our ASF staff was happy to be in attendance and capture special moments from the evening on camera.