Mohamed Mansour, 17, a member of Fort Worth ISD’s My Brother’s Keeper program at North Side High School helped hatch an idea to beautify his neighborhood and celebrate Latino culture.
Mansour and his North Side, Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School and Amon Carter-Riverside High School program classmates came up with the idea to paint a mural of Namor, a Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta, to celebrate the indigenous roots of many of Northside’s residents.
“For me, it’s going to represent not only Latino culture but all cultures within this neighborhood. It’s not just black and white, you know, it has meaning — all of it has meaning, every single detail has meaning,” Mansour said. “It’s not just a mural, but it’s also a story and its history.”
A staple of the My Brother’s Keeper program is its service project during Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez Day, a districtwide day of service. While most My Brother’s Keeper chapters do cleanups, the Northside chapter decided to beautify the neighborhood with a mural at Supermercado Monterrey, 2718 Roosevelt Ave., said Rickie Clark, executive director of My Brother’s Keeper.
The program is focused on obliterating barriers and building strong, lasting bridges to opportunity for men and women, and having the courage to fight discrimination, Clark said. The program takes students on tours of colleges and companies like American Airlines, and participates in community service projects.
The mural is a collaborative project with muralist Juan Velazquez, who has painted notable murals like one of Vanessa Guillén, who was killed in Fort Hood, and his work with other Fort Worth artists in Uvalde following last year’s school shooting.
Velazquez visited the My Brother’s Keeper students months ago where they all brainstormed designs, ideas and themes.
“If you love something, you have to make sure it survives through generations and not just yourself. So, this is my way of helping the younger generation see that in themselves,” Velazquez said. “I’m not a gatekeeper or think I’m the only one that can speak for the culture.”
“I think it’s important for them to tell their story and see how much they can do if they work together,” he said. “There’s kind of a mentality between Latinos where they are trying to bring each other down, so let’s figure out how we can work together.”
The North Side High School chapter of My Brother’s Keeper chapter created a Facebook page for the project — North Side High School “My Brother’s Keeper” Murals. Velazquez hopes the chapter can create a mural every year and update the page with photos.
Onesimo Torres, a mentor in the program, said inspiration for the mural came from Chicano Park, a memorial park in San Diego.
To him, art allows children to express their culture and their identity.
“The students that we work with kind of went through the journey of them figuring out who they are, where they come from, where their roots are from, and that kind of led to thinking about the community project,” Torres said.
Mansour got involved with My Brother’s Keeper as a first-year high school student — he is now a senior at North Side High.
He got involved when his football coach brought his attention to the program, he said. Four years later, the camaraderie and celebration of culture kept him active with the group.
“We get a lot of information and it’s fun. It’s never boring,” Mansour said. The mural will represent and become a popular spot for the community, he said.
Fernando Raga, 60, an All Saints Catholic Church youth minister, said he lives two blocks from the mural. He’s lived in Northside for 50 years — he moved away to live in Saginaw for a while, but returned to his original stomping grounds.
“This pumps me up. It’s going to open our eyes that we are forgetting a little bit about our ancestors,” Raga said. “And every time we pass through here, we’re going to realize, ‘Hey, I’m a Mexican. I need to know a little bit more about our history.’”
The mural gave Raga chills. He was born in Mexico but grew up in Fort Worth, he said. He sometimes struggles with Spanish and with English — he’s somewhere in the middle, he said.
“Sometimes we lose our identity. Where are we? Who are we? This will remind us who we are,” Raga said. “I’m really proud of these kids doing something for the neighborhood.”
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.