PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Finishing touches have been put on a West Philadelphia mural honoring CBS News legend Ed Bradley. The newest addition to Philadelphia’s public art collection is dedicated to the hometown broadcast pioneer.
“We wanted a very colorful wall, a very vibrant wall, something that’s very luminous,” said Ernel Martinez, who designed the mural.
Even a damp, overcast day couldn’t overshadow the vibrance of the mural dedicated to Bradley.
“If you look around the mural, you’ll see these small vignettes that are basically highlights of Ed’s life,” said Martinez.
It’s taken the lead artist and the Mural Arts Philadelphia program about two years to bring the multi-layered new mural to life. It’s located at Belmont and Wyalusing Avenue, in the heart of the West Philadelphia neighborhood where Bradley grew up.
“Wow, it is so gorgeous, I love it,” said Patricia Blanchet, who gazed in awe at the artwork that helps to define her late husband’s illustrious career.
Bradley spent 26 years as a correspondent for “60 Minutes,” years as a war correspondent and he was also the first black television journalist to cover the White House and anchor his own broadcast.
“This is one of the brightest murals in the city, the most colorful,” said Martinez. “I hope they’re not just drawn by the imagery, but it sort of sparks their curiosity of ‘Why Ed? What was it about his life that allowed him to go on a mural?’ And that they’ll actually pursue it and ask questions.”
Blanchet helped to spearhead the mural initiative, a project that she says goes far beyond just a mural on a wall.
“It was really important to me that Ed not be two-dimensional and flat, but that he come to life,” she said. “His life and his legacy he brought to bear on young minds and young hearts, and hopefully in a transformative way.”
Eighth-grade student Kaylah McGuffie was one of those young hearts he touched. She visited CBS Studios in New York last fall to help paint part of the mural.
“Just thinking of all the students like me, all my friends that helped with that mural, the hard work Ed Bradley did to get a mural, and all the people who you never know will grow up and end up having a mural of their own,” she said.
The 70-by-30-foot mural looms larger than life, honoring a man whose grace and humility would question its very existence.
“I think he’d go, ‘What, a mural about me?’ He was a very humble person, and when I tell people that they’re always a little surprised because he was a famous, world-renowned man, and yet Ed really was just Butch Bradley from West Philadelphia,” said Blanchet.
The CBS Corporation is happy to join with the Ed Bradley Family Foundation to fund the mural. The Philadelphia Association of Black journalists and Bradley’s alma mater, Cheney University, also played big roles in the creation of the mural.
A public dedication will take place this Saturday at noon, weather permitting. It will include free food, entertainment and special guest appearances, including our very own Ukee Washington. The rain date is scheduled for Saturday, June 16.