While some visitors to Boston's State House may overlook the 54th regiment statue across Beacon Street, no one will be able to miss the building-size mural of the image that covers the entire State House. Besides paying tribute to one of the most significant moments in New England history, the dramatic mural honoring Massachusetts's first African-American Civil War regiment serves to protect the government building during ongoing restoration. As part of this week's ceremonial "Hope and Glory" mural, members of the 54th Volunteers honored the historic regiment with a musket salute on the State House steps, only a few feet from the original statue. The billboard-size canvas mural took almost a full day to hang in five separate parts.
Created by AK MediaPrint and sponsored by Avaya, the mural was designed to cover the State House facade while it undergoes three months of construction. "AK Media/MA was proud to offer the state its expertise and ability to produce and install top-quality, large-format advertising," states Drew Hoffman, AK Media's general manager. The company is a provider of outdoor advertising in the greater Boston region, offering more than 2,500 outdoor media displays with a reach as far as Worcester and Fall River. The company also operates in New Jersey and New York, but jumped at the chance of paying homage to local African-American military heroes.
According to Hoffman, the 54th regiment was made up of free African-Americans, including several sons of Frederick Douglas. The regiment won undying glory by leading an assault on Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina, in which nearly half of the unit was killed, wounded or captured.
"The wallscape is a fitting tribute to the sacrifices," says Secretary of Administration and Finance Stephen Crosby. "We are proud to recognize bravery and courage of these individuals and their historic significance."