There’s a new mural in Glen Echo Park in Montgomery County, Maryland that celebrates both the 100th anniversary of a famous carousel and a protest that led to the amusement park’s eventual integration.
But the piece wasn’t painted by just anyone; it was painted by teenagers served by a Gaithersburg, Maryland nonprofit called Identity Inc. The project was born through a partnership with an Annapolis nonprofit that connects at-risk kids with artists who teach them how to make murals.
Identity says its goal is to work to help in-school and out-of-school Latino teens in Montgomery County get access to resources that can help them succeed.
Some of the kids in the program are recent immigrants to the U.S. and do not speak English well.
Dianne Shenton is a spokeswoman for Future History Now, the Annapolis organization that helped connect the artists and the teenagers.
“Not only is it an opportunity for some mentorship and guidance from professional artists for those youth who may have an interest, but they also get to learn history, math, problem solving, team building; the life lessons that we hope will take them further, whether they pursue art or not,” she said.
The mural, which portrays the carousel and the 1960 protest, came to life when the teens, displaying diligence and focus, spray-painted the lengthy canvas. Five artists who work with Future History Now offered guidance.
The children learned about the park’s moment in civil rights history through the prism of their own newfound experiences.
“It’s great meeting all the new people, and it’s great doing the artwork especially, and being out in the community, helping out,” said Valerya, a 16-year-old resident of Gaithersburg, through an interpreter.
She said she was glad to learn the history of Glen Echo and “how we have gone so much further from those times.”
WTOP’s Dan Friedell contributed to this report.