Women make history

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In 1945, Grand Rapids got its first professional women’s baseball team. The Grand Rapids Chicks debuted that year as part of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and the stands quickly filled with supporters cheering them on. A new mural project is paying homage to the team as well as several other women who made their mark on Grand Rapids.

The Women’s Way mural project is a public art initiative meant to activate several alleyways around Grand Rapids while also honoring the important women who made the city home.

In a press release, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. said, “Importantly, the currently nameless alleyways will be officially named — and marked with commemorative street signage — in honor of the women leaders highlighted at each space. This is an intentional gesture that aims to call attention to the fact that women’s names — relative to men’s — are not often assigned to public and private buildings and property.”

Plans for movable furniture for seating, planters, lighting, a biographical plaque about each woman and periodic pop-up programming to further energize the space also are in the works.

Other women featured in murals

Harriet Woods Hill, the first African American woman to serve as an officer in the Grand Rapids Police Department. The mural will be in the alley off Louis Street NW at the northwest corner of GRPD headquarters.

Ethel Coe, a renaissance woman who was a community activist, musician, actor and civil rights leader. The mural will be in the alley off Monroe Avenue NW on the north side of 20 Monroe Live

Angeline Kelsey “Naw Kay O Say” Yob, who was an educator, community activist and Citizen of the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians. She worked three decades with Grand Rapids Public Schools in the Native American Education Program. The mural will be in the alley off Sheldon Avenue NE between the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and The Apartment Lounge.

The local artists participating in the project are Jasmine Bruce, Esan Sommersell, Alan Compo and Michi Farias.

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