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Two-time Oscar winner Ruth Carter to be honored with a mural in her hometown of Springfield

Ruth Carter remotely attended the announcement in Springfield City Hall by Mayor Domenic Sarno of the city's plans to immortalize her with a mural in her native city.
Paul Tuthill
Ruth Carter remotely attended the announcement in Springfield City Hall by Mayor Domenic Sarno of the city's plans to immortalize her with a mural in her native city.

The mural will be painted on the Rebecca Johnson school in the historically Black Mason Square neighborhood

Plans have been announced to permanently honor a Springfield, Massachusetts native who has made history in Hollywood.

Two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter – the first Black woman to win multiple Academy Awards – will be immortalized in her native city with a mural.

Carter, who won her second Oscar earlier this year for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” joined by teleconference for the announcement in Springfield City Hall about the mural project.

“It’s just a wonderful honor,” Carter said. “You dream about maybe winning an Oscar, you don’t dream about one day your city’s going to paint a big mural in your honor. This is as good as the Oscar.”

The mural honoring Carter will be painted on the Rebecca Johnson Elementary School – named for one of Springfield’s first Black educators, announced Mayor Domenic Sarno.

“We agreed this would send a tremendous message not only to the city of Springfield but to our young people,” Sarno said

He said it was his idea to permanently honor Carter with a mural.

Earlier this year when Carter was in Springfield visiting family, she was shown possible locations for the mural and chose the school in the heart of the historically Black Mason Square neighborhood, said Springfield Cultural Council President Andrew Cade.

“We thank you, Ruth, for the energy that you are going to bring to Mason Square,” Cade said. “Surely, the mural will initiate conversation and thought. But, just imagine all the young kids who will be coming to school every day and looking up at the wall to see the great Ruth Carter.”

The artists for the mural have been selected. They’ll work with Carter on the design.

One of the co-designers, the artist who goes by the name “Self,” said it is a honor.

“Ruth Carter is a big inspiration to a lot of people here in Springfield,” she said. “It shows we can dream big and actually achieve it, so (the mural) is a big deal.”

The project is being managed by Common Wealth Murals. Director Britt Ruhe said when the actual painting starts the public will get a chance to participate.

“We’re going to create a giant paint-by-numbers out of the design and we’ll have community paint parties where hundreds of people could come and help paint the mural,” Ruhe said.

A date for the mural installation has not been announced. It is expected to happen before September.

The city is paying for the mural project out of its allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, according to the city’s chief development officer Tim Sheehan.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.