Discover Madison Kentucky January-February 2021 - Page 18

We Live Here
Local Art
recently completed in the city — is an effort she is happy to see carried out .
“ I love the mural ,” she exclaimed . “ It ’ s a beautiful addition , not only to the library building , but also to the Main Street streetscape . I think this is a project that will be cherished by our community for years to come .”
Mary Eliza Merritt
In Aug . 2020 , in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic , local ’ s attention and praise was focused on healthcare professionals and their tireless efforts to combat the pandemic .
It was timely that a mural of Mary Eliza Merritt — the first Black registered nurse in Kentucky — appeared on North Broadway Street in Berea .
Merritt was also a Berea College graduate and worked to treat soldiers during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 .
“ It was the right time , in the right place , with the right person ,” Dr . Edd Easton-Hogg , who commissioned the mural , said of the art piece in Old Town Artisan Village .
Easton-Hogg , who is a psychologist , said after witnessing the recent Black Lives Matter movement and the recent pandemic , he was moved to do something that could bring hope and light to his local community .
“ I always try to be engaged and share messages of hope , no matter what I ’ m doing . As a parent of a Black child , I thought it would be great to highlight Ms . Merritt ’ s accomplishments and share her story … We wanted someone who truly overcame every obstacle in life and had a local tie ,” Easton-Hogg explained .
While researching , Easton-Hogg said he and his family stumbled across Merritt ’ s engaging story .
“ Her story is so captivating … As a healthcare professional , I was really drawn to Mary ’ s story and her passion for caring for people and her career spent teaching people to care for others ,” Easton-Hogg said .
bell hooks as painted by artists Matthew King and Keena Sparks .
Merritt was born near Berea in 1881 and attended Berea College to obtain her teaching credentials . From there , Merritt taught school in Manchester , but returned to Berea College when she discovered the school had implemented a new nursing program .
She graduated from the program in 1902 , but in 1904 was forced to finish her nurses training at another institution when the Day Law forced segregation of the college .
Undeterred , Merritt finished her training at Freedman ’ s Hospital in Washington , D . C ., which was affiliated with Howard University .
In 1906 , after Merritt graduated from Freedman ’ s training program , she returned to Kentucky and worked as a private duty nurse caring for retired politician Cassius M . Clay .
Merritt then moved to Kansas where she started a nurse training program .
She returned to Kentucky to serve as the superintendent of nursing at Louisville ’ s Red Cross Hospital , which was founded by African Americans during the Jim Crow era when racial segregation kept most African Americans from receiving medical treatment in local area hospitals .
The Red Cross Hospital was the only place in Kentucky that African American ’ s could be trained as a nurse until 1937 and where Merritt spent most of her career as a nurse educator .
Merritt attempted to serve her country and help the wounded during World War I , but was excluded from service because of her race .
However , after the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 , Merritt treated Black soldiers at Camp Taylor in Louisville .
Merritt was awarded a certificate of merit by United States President Woodrow Wilson for her work during World War I at Camp Taylor .
Merritt was also awarded the Mary Mahoney Medal for distinguished service in nursing from the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1949 and was inducted into the Kentucky Hall of
Fame . The Merritt Building at Central State
Hospital was named in her honor .
Jaylin Stewart , the artist commissioned to paint the mural of Merritt in Berea , said she was honored to be chosen and was delighted to learn more about the life of the nurse she was painting .
“ Jaylin is great . We really wanted a Black female artist involved and someone that was up-and-coming . After viewing Jaylin ’ s work , we knew she was the one . She is a wonderful person who is also doing great things for her community . She runs a non-profit art school
and teaches at-risk youth in Louisville ,” Easton-Hogg explained .
bell hooks
Patrons of Apollo ’ s Pizza in Berea were greeted in May 2020 by a new mural on the back patio of the restaurant .
It was bell hooks — acclaimed intellectual , feminist theorist , cultural critic , artist and author — painted by artists Matthew King and Keena Sparks .
Since 2004 , hooks has been a professor at Berea College , where she teaches Appalachian Studies and urges her students to think for themselves and challenges them to learn about other
18 Madison Magazine January-February 2021