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A University With a View: Social Justice and the Arts

President’s Lecture Series’ Panel Discussion Feb. 22


By Marie Jacinto

What do social justice, contemporary art, and Downtown Houston have in common? 

Find out at the President’s Lecture Series on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 9:30 to 11 a.m., in the Welcome Center’s TDECU Tour Room. The Campus Community is invited to join President Loren J. Blanchard for breakfast and the panel discussion “Social Justice and the Arts: Downtown Powerful Art Mural Spaces” with special guest Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. 

Central to the discussion are the new, giant murals popping up on Downtown buildings. Commissioner Ellis conceived of the idea for “Big Art. Bigger Change.”—an art project that seeks to unite Downtown Houston and initiate conversations leading to social change. Spearheaded by Central Houston Inc./Houston Downtown Management District and curated by Street Art for Mankind, the massive “exhibition” of 10 murals was originally unveiled in October 2022

But Ellis envisioned even more murals for Downtown Houston. Fast-forward a couple of months: the new Remembrance Murals, which seem to have magically appeared, are now in plain sight from the southside of UHD’s One Main Building and provide another reason for Dr. Blanchard to refer to UHD as a “University with a View.” Created by Victor Ash, a Danish-French artist based in Copenhagen, these murals are inspired by Harris County’s Remembrance Park, which aims to create a space of recognition and discourse around racism and systemic injustice.

It seems only fitting that these “justice-themed” murals are in harmony with such nearby Harris County justice institutions as the Harris County's Criminal Courthouse, Civil Courthouse, Family Law Center, and the Jury Plaza. Facing UHD is the mural inspired by a photo of the trailblazing Texas legislator Senfronia Thompson, featuring a pair of “hypnotic multicolored eyes that see through the scales of justice and demand ‘Justice for All!’” From the vantage point of UHD, those mesmerizing eyes overlook the College of Public Service, which houses UHD’s Criminal Justice Program. The northwest mural, overlooking Main Street, features a Black “Lady Justice” with a scarf covering her eyes, a sword in her right hand, and the scales of justice in her left, ready to deliver “fair and true justice.”

And that’s just the beginning! Learn how these murals are sparking conversations around diversity, inclusion, equity, and so much more when Ellis and guest artists participate in a panel discussion as part of the President’s Lecture Series. Register online

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.