A new image of former New York Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur O. Eve looms over the school that is his namesake.
A mural bearing Eve's portrait was dedicated during a ceremony Wednesday at the Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction, School No. 61, on Leroy Avenue. The longtime politician and former Buffalo mayoral candidate was lauded by current Mayor Byron W. Brown and others in attendance as a trailblazer and visionary for his dedication to public education, particularly for those growing up in disadvantaged circumstances.
"Mr. Arthur O. Eve dedicated his career to creating pathways of success to underserved individuals in underserved communities," said School No. 61 principal Nathaniel Barnes, who said the area surrounding the school is often identified as an underserved community.
Buffalo-based artist Julia Bottoms, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo State, created the mural that graces the back wall of the school. She also created a mural of Eve for the Freedom Wall on Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street near the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. She is currently an adjunct professor at Medaille and Villa Maria colleges, where she teaches art.
Bottoms was unable to attend Wednesday's ceremony, but she provided a written statement that was read at the dedication of the mural.
"This mural is designed to honor the legacy of School 61 namesake Arthur O. Eve. The mural showcases a portrait of Mr. Eve, along with several elements that help to represent the vibrancy of School 61," she said.
In addition to Eve's portrait, two students are portrayed. One of them represents former School 61 principal Parette M. Walker at age 9.
The mural also includes a diploma symbolizing students' ultimate academic pursuit, and butterflies, the school's unofficial mascot.
Barnes said the vision for the mural started with his predecessor.
"Former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, the Honorable Arthur O. Eve, provided exceptional service and outstanding leadership to the community and to the State of New York," Barnes said.
Brown acknowledged Eve's wife, Constance, who also was at the dedication.
"Clearly, Arthur Eve is a trailblazer. He is a great man that was very focused on education during his tenure in government," said Brown.
Brown mentioned that he had the honor of working with Eve for a number of years and was inspired by his passion for learning and education.
Brown noted that Eve's legacy as the founder of the Educational Opportunity Program "made it possible for thousands and thousands of New Yorkers to receive a higher education," who otherwise might not.
Ferry District School Board member and former School Board President Sharon Belton-Cottman said she was one of those who benefited from Eve's vision.
"When the community was approached about this subject, it was a no-brainer. Who else deserved to be recognized in this city if Arthur Eve is not?" she said.
"The results of his labor, the seeds that he sowed are responsible for what we have in this building and what we have on this wall," said Belton-Cottman. "He was talking about equity and making things equitable before it was a keyword."