Activist, visionary muralist and teacher Mario Torero unveiled the renovated Malcolm X Mural at Southcrest Park in San Diego, Calif., on May 29. The inscription on the mural quotes Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik Shabazz: “Just as a tree without roots is dead, so is a people without history or culture.”
In 1993, “artivist” Torero partnered with the African-American community, who were the core of the Southcrest Park area at the time, to paint a mural commemorating their hero, Malcolm X. They painted the mural on the façade of the Southcrest Recreation Center, finishing on May 15 of that year, near Malcolm’s birthday and in recognition of the Los Angeles Rebellion just a year earlier. The community also renamed the Southcrest facility the Malcolm X Park and Recreation Center.
Over the last 21 years, the mural had come to look very worn-out and dilapidated. Already succumbing to graffiti, it was going to be erased and destroyed until the community came out in support of preserving it. They found Torero and asked him to repaint it. It took a year to find the necessary funds to get it renovated. Finally, monetary support came from the office of San Diego city Councilperson Myrtle Cole of District 4.
Torero began the renovation work in May and invited the community to the unveiling to celebrate the 90th birthday of Malcolm X and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his assassination. A special guest, Nathaniel Peterson, representing “the spirit of Malcolm X,” recited one of Malcolm X’s speeches. Also present were representatives from the Southcrest Community Council and the Malcolm X Library, a journalist from Activist San Diego and an organizer from the Committee Against Police Brutality-San Diego, as well as community members. The beautiful, brilliant, bright mural was unveiled, and it will remain in the park for many years to come.