ELGIN, Texas— Celebrate Black history in Elgin with the Elgin Black Icons Mural Dedication on Saturday, January 14 at 11:00AM at 101 Central Avenue. The mural located on the historically segregated south side of the tracks at the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue was completed by Stem and Thorn in December 2022 for the Elgin Sesquicentennial. A gift to the community from the Elgin Main Street Board, the mural recognizes and honors Black community leaders both deceased and living. Civil rights leader Harvey Westbrook, educator Annie Lee Haywood, business owners and community leaders S.H. McShan and Dororthy McCarther and musician Monty Joe Thomas are the featured portraits in this mural that is fifty feet long and twenty feet high, filling the entire wall of the building facing South Main Street. Short stories of their lives, musical performances and a community prayer circle will be shared during the dedication.
Gospel recording artist Monty Joe Thomas (1944-2015), also known as “Mr. Cheerios”, was a lifetime resident of Elgin and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. He was a member (lead guitar, lead & background vocals) of The Gospel Mourners of Taylor, Tx for 32 + years. You would always hear The Gospel Mourners every Sunday morning (LIVE) from 7-7:30 am on KTAE 1260AM in Taylor, TX. He founded a local musical group called The Thomas Family who recorded 3 CD’s and to this date they continue to perform. He also had a hand in forming a quartet group called The Gospel Tones of Elgin and was also a member of Milton Hill & The Gospel Soul Singers of Austin. Monty Thomas had an encyclopedic knowledge of gospel music that ranged from quartet, country, steel guitar, soul music, blue grass, etc. He was involved in many organizations such as The Masonic Lodge (Utley, TX) Elgin Evening Lions Club and Coached Elgin Boys Little League. Monty Thomas was named Mr. Juneteenth in 2004 and King Hog in 2015. He was also the owner of Thomas Appliance Service for 50 years, if it could be fixed, Monty was the guy! He was an active member and helped in building the structure of Greater Mt. Vernon Zion A.M.E. Church Elgin Tx.
Led by Theresa McShan, Elgin’s first Black Mayor and past president of the Elgin Main Street Board, the mural shares a legacy of Black leadership in Elgin recognizing the past and looking forward to the future. The Elgin Main Street Program is part of the City of Elgin Community Services Division with a volunteer board dedicated to revitalizing the historic downtown business district using the Four Point Main Street Approach and focusing on economic development in the context of historic preservation. This is the second mural funded by the program and the sixth new mural in the district since 2015.
The mural was funded by the program’s signature event, the Annual Hogeye Festival and a gift from Jimmy and Cindi Ferguson, owners of Elgin’s McDonald’s. The mural will be included in the Elgin Self-Guided Black History tour and the Elgin Art Walking Tour, both available online at www.elgintexas.gov