A steering committee of Black Harrisburg community leaders dedicated to creating a mural celebrating Black culture guided the creation of this mural in the summer of 2021. They selected talented Black Harrisburg artist, Bryan “King Prolific” Hickman, after he served as an apprentice on Sprocket Mural Works’ Mulberry Street bridge murals. He describes “Raffia” as “Afro-inspired,” depicting a Black woman who’s a friend and Harrisburg resident. It incorporates themes of African American strength, appreciation for youth, and the importance of education. Studies show that murals that depict themes of diversity within diverse neighborhoods (such as Harrisburg’s) lead to increased community pride and civic engagement.
Hickman describes the opportunity to create this mural as a dream project and “supreme honor,” especially since Harrisburg is his hometown. He gave the mural the full title “Raffia: An Interweaving of Past, Present, and Future.”
The mural’s steering committee included Black leaders, artists, business owners, and Harrisburg community activists. “As a 4th generation Harrisburg resident raised in the midtown area, I believe many people overlook the vibrancy of our city and what it has to offer,” says Ruby Doub, steering committee member and artist. “This mural unveils the hues of our resilience and the power of our perseverance. It allows generations to see we’re still here, still standing, and united in more ways than one.”