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Gospel Rescue Ministries Unveils Mural of Hope

Ed Laiscell | 10/7/2009, 9:54 p.m.

In 2008, Gospel Rescue Ministries in Northwest helped about 20 men and women to overcome homelessness and addiction. Today, the organization helps more than 100 men and women monthly to overcome low self-esteem, loneliness and a sense of hopelessness through an array of programs.

Often, all that€s needed is a symbol of hope. That€s why Gospel Rescue Ministries in Northwest decided to display artwork in its lobby from Howard University students and other local artists.

Residents, friends of the ministry and artists attended the unveiling of €From Menelik I to Obama€ on Sat., Oct. 3. The mural was created by Ethiopian artist Mekbib Gebertsadik, a graduate student at Howard. Displayed on two walls, it depicts the journey of a people from East Africa through slavery and through the civil rights movement. Featured in the mural are historical icons that include Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Harriett Tubman, President Abraham Lincoln, and President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama.

€I wanted that mural because just seeing that [shows] we€re about change and transformation,€ said Michael Cortese, the ministries€ director. €I€m impressed with the guys who walk through the door and have the guts to try and change their lives. When they see that mural -- they hope. That€s what this place is €"it€s hope.€

Across the lobby, another section of the mural features images of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Robert Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Dorothy Height, and Sojourner Truth. The mural was completed in the latter part of September.

Gebertsadik migrated to the United States in 2001 with his wife Meseret Desta.

€I just like dealing with history,€ Gebertsadik said. €Each figure in here is a hero. Abraham Lincoln has done great things for this country and next to him is Frederick Douglass who is very famous and [the others are] very good people. That is why we put it together.€

Helen Deas of District Heights, Md., visited her son at Gospel Rescue Ministries earlier during the week. She said that she was extremely impressed with the mural.

€They are so beautiful and life-like,€ she remarked, while studying the artwork. €I was here on Wed. [Sept. 30] and I heard that the artist was going to be here today. I wanted to meet him because the work is so beautiful.€

Two friends, 21-year-old Gabrielle Grant and 19-year-old Raquel Thomas, also stopped by to view the mural. Both admired the artist€s vision and skill.

€It is very colorful and has great depth. I like what he did,€ Grant said. €It shows unity from different people. I think the message is positive and inspiring. It shows many people from different times and races coming together standing as one like in the motherland,€ she added.

€I really like the background, people picking cotton and then [depicting present day] with Obama and Michelle in the front. The impression makes you think about times and how things have changed,€ Thomas said.

Anthony Randolph, one of the ministries€ residents, said he came to Gospel Rescue Ministries after trying to break a 35-year drug and alcohol addiction.

€I think the mural is a beautiful thing. To watch him actually working on it and then to see the development and the people in it, just gives me hope,€ Randolph said. €Now, that my mind and body is calming down, I can respect the art, not just here but everywhere,€ he added.