The local historic depiction of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment is completed.
The mural faces the Fort Scott National Historic Site, the place of the mustering of the regiment during the American Civil War.
St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc worked on the mural for a week in August with temperatures over 100 degrees.
“The project took six days to complete,” Bayoc said in an interview. “I started spray painting the sketch on Monday and made final touches on it Saturday afternoon. The only long day was Wednesday which was crucial in getting it done on schedule.”
He worked from afternoon to evening because of the location of the mural on the north side of the building. That week of August 2023 the community experienced over 100 degrees daily.
“The heat was a definite factor,” Bayoc said. “It cut my days shorter than I am used to spending on murals of this scale. Also the rail and the steps made for some interesting body maneuvering to get the soldier on the left and the banner bottom middle done.”
Bayoc describes his work and its meaning.
“I chose the soldier with the flag because black folks always hoped going to battle for the country would gain their rights and respect as citizens,” he said. “The ad (To Arms! To Arms!) was crucial because putting guns in the hands of black soldiers was crucial to the (Civil War/slavery) times and foreshadowed their being the first regiment to see battle. I like the line created by the rifle and what it adds to the design. Their name and regiment number flank the left side and of course, elements from the battalion flag provide the backdrop.”
The public is invited to join the “Free To Serve” mural unveiling on Friday, October 6 from 4 to 4:30 p.m.
“We will veil the mural before out-of-town guests arrive for the Gordon Parks celebration for a more grand reveal, but until then the mural is available to be photographed,” Rachel French, coordinator of the project for the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce Downtown Division said.
The Kansas Department of Commerce Office of Rural Prosperity awarded funding for the project, along with several local benefactors.