Fort Scott Chamber Awarded Grant For History Mural on Skubitz Plaza

A historic mural project commemorating the African-American troops that fought in the Civil War is moving forward in Fort Scott.

The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Division applied for and received a Kansas Office of Rural Prosperity grant for $5,250 to have a mural painted on the building that faces the Fort Scott National Historic Site on Skubitz Plaza.

This mural will be replaced with a new one depicting African-American troops who served in the American Civil War.

“The 1st Kansas Colored Infantry mural will be facing the Fort Scott National Historic Site,” Chamber Executive Director Lindsay Madison said. ” It commemorates the infantry that was stationed at the fort.”

The grant application was made through a new Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which is a 501c3 entity, she said.

Rachel French, who is on the FS Chamber Downtown Division committee, served as the project coordinator, assisted by Taton Majors, with Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc. Other members of the downtown Chamber committee are Cathy Bishop, John Crain, Bailey Lyons and Angela Simon.

The Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce Downtown Committee 2021. Submitted photo. From left: Bailey Lyons, John Crain, Rachel French and Angela Simon. Not pictured is Cathy Bishop.

Deadline for proposals from artists interested in designing and painting the mural was May 31.

Selected artists proposals will be sent to Kansas University Professor of African American Studies, Randal Jelks, to ensure that all drawings are culturally sensitive, French said.

“Then he can make recommendations for possible revisions for design, after that, a local panel here will judge,” French said.

Names will not be attached to the art proposals for judging, to ensure fairness.

The local judges panel includes Trent and Kate Freeman, owners of a local art shop; Whitney Beth, a local art teacher; Katie Hueston, who has been involved in the coordinating of murals in the last two years in the historic downtown area; Kirk Sharp, executive director of the Gordon Parks Museum; Carl Brenner, Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management at Fort Scott National Historic Site; and Jerry Witt, owner of the building on which the mural will be painted.

“After they select a winner, we will reach out to the winner personally,” French said. “We will then make the announcement on Facebook and do a press release on June 19. After that, the artist can start and has to be done by September 1.”

To keep up to date on the mural creation:

The mural will be dedicated during the Gordon Parks Celebration on the first Friday in October, French said.

The $5,250 grant is a matching grant.

“We are fundraising for the match,” French said. “We need to do signage and there will be recognition of donors.”

To donate:


According to French, other community stakeholders in this mural project are Rob Harrington with Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc.; Fort Scott City Manager Brad Matkin; Fort Scott City Commissioners Matthew Wells and Josh Jones; Gordon Parks Museum Director Kirk Sharp; Fort Scott National Historic Site Superintendent Jill Jaworski,  and Brenner, also with the fort.

The following is from the press release announcing the grant awards from the Kansas Department of Commerce:

“Awardees are in communities across the state with less than 15,000 population. The murals will highlight community gathering spaces and tourist attractions – and provide a welcome message for visitors and residents alike. Each of the projects requires a 1:1 match from the community, with the smallest of communities allowed to match the grant with in-kind donations. Seventy-five percent of the grant funding will be gifted upfront as several of the city projects plan to start in the next few weeks.”

To view a prior story:

Historic Mural Soon Coming to Downtown Fort Scott: Artist Proposals Needed by May 29

6 thoughts on “Fort Scott Chamber Awarded Grant For History Mural on Skubitz Plaza”

  1. What about the Native Americans that are actually buried in the national cemetery? Is this just another politically correct propaganda mural? Gordon parks did nothing for this town but he is plastered all over it. There are other people that have done so much for this town and keep doing it but they are not your choice of color to celebrate.

    1. What do you mean Gordon Parks did nothing for this town?…He donated several of his most valuable photographs to Fort Scott, and made a movie here which generated a lot of income for Fort Scott…He could have filmed it in Hollywood…The purpose of the mural is because Fort Scott has the distinction of getting the first black troops in the civil war. It was a significant historic event that should be noted. The complaint sounds a little racist to me…The natives should be honored too..I believe Friends of the Fort and Lowell Milken Center have been doing that all year with presentations, Native American speakers, performances, books and a book club…Maybe you should look into what they are doing around here regarding the Osage Natives. Next month we will have an Osage ballet brought to us by the friends of the Fort…

      1. Racist…nope. Just tired of political bandwagon garbage. Gordon Parks could have helped this town. Giving a few pictures and making a racist film did what for this town? What money was given to this town from the movie?? People volunteered to be in it. This town has slowly dwindled downhill. Now it’s grasping at anything that will give it some attention. Whenever you disagree, someone yells “racist” ha ha.

        1. The decline of Fort Scott had NOTHING to do with Gordon Parks…it was the decline of the railroad and Western Insurance leaving. You seem to have a deep seated anger at Gordon Parks or is it blacks in general?…The black troops being stationed first in Fort Scott during the civil war is an important historical event that should be recognized. There are a lot of events this year honoring the contributions of the Native Americans to this country too. Visit the Fort and the Lowell Milken Center to find out…Nothing we do for the blacks or the Natives of this country will erase or make up for the past abuse of them. We can only try to make reparations to them by noting their contributions to society and calling out bigotry when we recognize it..And that includes recognizing Gordon Parks, a renaissance man, who was raised in a very racist Fort Scott, but still enjoyed coming home to be here and even chose to be buried here…During the filming of the movie…the only money made was not for the extras but for meals and housing, etc, of all the participant ..Everyone benefited!! …Of course, it helped the economy of Fort Scott at the time!!…

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