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Phoenix artist unveils mural of civil rights movement

A new mural painted by Phoenix artist Antonio Pasos was unveiled at the Phoenix Public Library on Friday, June 27, 2014. (KTAR photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Dozens of Valley civil rights leaders gathered at the Phoenix Public Library on Friday morning for the unveiling of a new mural marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The mural features several of the central figures in the movement, including Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and President Lyndon Johnson. It was painted by Phoenix artist Antonio Pasos, who wants the piece to help people remember what the 1960s were like.

"I wanted to give people the image of it being a scary time -- uncertain, violent, totally unfair and totally unjust," he said. "I want people to go back in time and look at what we all went through to get where we are."

One image on the painting that stands out to him is that of Walter Gadsden, an innocent bystander who is being bitten by a police dog during a march in Birmingham, Ala.

"That picture notices that this man is being calm. He's being like, 'Ok, your dog is biting me, but I didn't do anything,'" said Pasos. "This guy's being attacked by a dog and he's not freaking out! He's just like 'Hey! What's going on?' I would be screaming if the dog were attacking me."

The mural will appear at several Valley civil rights events going on Wednesday. It will then be at the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix through July 8.

Here is a list of events that are happening over the next week as part of the "Civil Rights Act of 1964 Golden Anniversary Arizona Celebration":

• Saturday, June 28: Voter Registration/Civic Engagement Kickoff. 9 a.m. Arizona State Capitol lawn, 1700 W Washington St., Phoenix. Free Admission.

• Sunday, June 29: Muti-faith, multi-racial and multi-generational worship Service. 3 p.m. Historic Tanner Chapel AME Church, 20 S. 8th St., Phoenix. Free Admission.

• Sunday, June 29: CRA 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner. 5 to 7 p.m. First Institutional Baptist Church, 1141 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix. To purchase tickets to this event, visit

• Wednesday July 2: Civil Rights Act 1964: Golden Anniversary Arizona Community Celebration, 5:30 to 8 p.m. George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 4156 E. Grant St., Phoenix. Free admission.

Click here for more information on these events.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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