‘If These Walls Could Talk’: Mural in honor of civil rights leader was dream for building owner

Mural of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires hope

A mural of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., acts as an inspiration for people in an East side neighborhood. It also has become a place for selfies.

SAN ANTONIO – Like the man whose face adorns the outside wall of her East Side church, Rosa L. Wilson had a dream.

Hers included turning Greater Faith Institutional Church, housed in a tiny building that once was a night club, into a beacon of hope for the surrounding community.

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“I promised my late-husband that this land would always be for the people,” she said, referring to the plot of land along Martin Luther King Drive on which the church sits. “The hope is here and it will never die.”

After the death of her husband in 2010, Wilson was left to oversee the church where she now serves as bishop and chief-apostle.

The mural on Martin Luther King Drive features the civil rights leader of the same name, speaking to a crowd. (KSAT 12 News)

In 2012, she worked with local artist David Blancas and numerous sponsors to have a mural, showing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing a crowd, painted on the front wall of the building.

Honoring the slain civil rights leader had been something she and her husband always strived to do.

During the early days of San Antonio’s MLK day march, the couple had been instrumental in coordinating some of its related events.

“The first pre-march celebration, Dr. Martin Luther King pre-march celebration, was held on our property,” Wilson said.

While that part of the city’s annual celebration has since moved across the street to the parking lot of Martin Luther King Junior Academy, the church and its mural still play a prominent role in the festivities.

It serves as the unofficial starting point for the roughly three-mile-long march that draws hundreds of thousands of participants each year.

The mural often serves as a backdrop for selfies during the city's annual Martin Luther King day march. (KSAT 12 News)

Wilson says people often use the mural as a backdrop for “selfies” on the MLK holiday and beyond.

“I have had people come from around the world,” she said. “I show up (and they say), “Well, we saw this mural and we just want to come and take pictures.”

What Wilson pictures is being able to offer people much more than a place to make photographic memories, but one where they can begin building dreams.

Her congregation participates in several ministries aimed at helping those in the community around them.

One example is the recent back-to-school drive they held where they offered free school supplies to children.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.