Parramore pioneers: New mural in Orlando honors neighborhood’s history

The seven-story mural was unveiled Wednesday

A larger-than-life mural is now available for the public to see as city officials wish to highlight pioneers in an Orlando neighborhood.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A larger-than-life mural is now available for the public to see as city officials wish to highlight pioneers in an Orlando neighborhood.

“The idea behind the project was to honor the professionals and artists of Parramore’s past who helped the community not only survive the challenges of segregation but to rise up against all odds and adversity,” said Laura Barbero-Buffa, president of CREW Orlando, a commercial real-estate organization aimed at advancing woman in the field.

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She unveiled the seven-story mural Wednesday, alongside city officials and artists.

The mural is located on the CityView apartments building, near the Amway Center. Organizers say they raised more than $160,000 to complete the project.

Five artists of color, all women, were chosen to showcase Parramore’s history, with each artist painting different levels of the building.

During the unveiling ceremony, each artist spoke about the symbols crafted throughout the mural, like the butterfly pictured near the top of the painting.

“A monarch butterfly symbolized change and transformation between what was and our ancestors into what we are today,” said artist Delia Miller.

Descendants of those represented on the mural attended the opening dedication ceremony, like the family members of Mary Jane Johnson, a midwife who delivered over 1,500 babies.

“One tidbit is whenever she completed the birth of a child, she would pray over that child, so the first thing that child would hear is a prayer,” said Ralph Johnson II, Mary Jane Johnson’s grandson.

Johnson said his grandmother was known for never losing a baby and succeeded with only a sixth-grade education. While he and his family are proud to have Mary Jane represented, Johnson hopes people look at this mural carefully and recognize the history that shaped Parramore’s present.

“You have to be careful and not lose the history and lose the pillars that brought us to where we are now,” said Johnson. “As kids growing up, we were around these people not knowing how special they truly were.”

City officials say residents can look forward to learning more about each face pictured.

“They’re putting a QR code on there so when you put your phone there, you can understand the history of each one of those pioneers,” said City Commissioner Regina Hill.

The mural will also be a part of CREW Orlando’s program aimed at providing educational materials and mentorship to high school students looking into commercial real estate.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.