A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. was an inspiration from the age of 16. That’s when the young engineering student at Purdue University confronted the school’s president with a simple question: Why do the Black students have to sleep in rooms without heat?
The president told him bluntly that while the law required Purdue to admit the Black students, it did not require him to house them anywhere with heat. So Higginbotham left. He integrated Antioch College, became a pre-law student and — as his nephew, Georgetown Law Professor Michael Higginbotham said Friday at the kickoff to our mural tribute — “the rest is history.”
Higginbotham went on to become a lawyer, jurist, civil rights pioneer, moral conscience, public and private hero — and soon, a larger than life mural on the front wall of Mercy Philadelphia Hospital at 54th and Chestnut streets.
The kickoff before a crowd of Higginbotham friends and local community members included remarks from Mural Arts Philadelphia‘s Jane Golden; Michael Higginbotham; Penn Carey Law School Dean Theodore Ruger; Penn Law Chairman Osagie O. Imasogie; and Citizen Co-founder Larry Platt, who has doggedly pursued the idea of a mural to Leon Higginbotham since at least 2005.
Finally, after hearing from artist Shawn Theodore, Golden unveiled his design for the mural — a stunning piece of work that incorporates painting, photography and collage.