Innovation Quarter unveils Depot Street Renaissance mural

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New street art installation, underwritten by Inmar Intelligence and commissioned through iQ Community Labs, highlights history of Black-owned businesses and organizations in downtown Winston-Salem

Innovation Quarter today unveiled a new street mural, commissioned through its iQ Community Labs and created by local artist Leo Rucker. The mural, which was underwritten by anchor tenant Inmar Intelligence, highlights the history and organizations near Depot Street (now Patterson Avenue) in this section of downtown Winston-Salem.

The mural is located on East 7th Street, between Patterson Avenue and Research Parkway, across from Inmar Intelligence headquarters.

“Art has always been a wonderful tool to bring communities together and highlight our shared history,” said Lindsey Schwab, director of community relations for Innovation Quarter. “The area in which the Innovation Quarter now sits has such a rich history of Black business and we are grateful for the contributions of Leo Rucker and Inmar Intelligence in helping us celebrate that history.”

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area surrounding the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company manufacturing facilities was known as the Depot Street neighborhood.

“Inmar is committed to taking action and making connections that result in real change for our employees and our communities with a focus on advancing human opportunity, equity, love and honor,” says David Mounts, Chairman and CEO Inmar Intelligence. “This mural is an important recognition and reminder of great Americans and historically black-owned business that have left an indelible imprint on our home city of Winston-Salem.”

Depot Street (now Patterson Avenue) was one of the first prestigious Black neighborhoods in Winston-Salem and remained as such with institutions like the Clark S. Brown & Sons Funeral Home, Patterson Avenue YMCA and Goler Memorial AME Zion Church having a continued presence.

The mural represents the latest in a commitment to increased emphasis on racial equity, diversity and inclusion in the Innovation Quarter, which is part of Wake Forest Baptist Health.

“Our commitment to racial equity and diversity includes celebrating the rich history that exists in the communities we serve,” said Dave McIntosh, PhD, vice president and chief inclusion and diversity officer for Wake Forest Baptist Health. “This new mural commemorates decades of Black history in entrepreneurship and community building and we are proud to help bring it to the Innovation Quarter.”

The mural depicts more than two dozen people or buildings that reflect the surrounding history of Black-owned businesses and community organizations, including: Mo Lucas, who served for over 50 years as director of the Patterson Ave. YMCA; Velma Hopkins, one of the organizers of the 1943 R.J. Reynolds worker strike; LaMae Beauty College, which opened in 1937; and Mary Burns, the first female president of the Safe Bus Company.

“This mural is created to be a reminder, not only of the men and women who worked to make a life for their families, but the tenacity and prosperity of the people working together to create a thriving economy in the Black community,” said Rucker.