'For Blacks Only' by Bill Walker
Photo: Courtesy of Chicago State University collection

Consider Bill Walker a father of the urban mural. Wall of Respect, a group project the Chicago painter conceived—an homage to more than 40 black heroes that went up on the side of a Bronzeville tavern in 1967—launched a public art movement across the country that persists in communities of color to this day. (The piece was destroyed by fire in 1971.) Walker continued to explore issues of the black metropolis until his death in 2011. The exhibit Urban Griot, opening November 5 at the Hyde Park Art Center, focuses on the artist’s later works, including the rarely seen For Blacks Only (pictured). “Walker had a real interest in telling the truth as he saw it,” says Juarez Hawkins, the exhibit’s curator. “It is both a celebratory message and cautionary tale to the African American community.”