honoring local heroes for justice and equality

FREEDOM WALKWAY

THE MEANING WITHIN THE WALL

Learn more about the freedom walkway and the symbolic significance behind each piece within this intricate mural honoring local heroes for justice and equality in Rock Hill.  

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FRIENDSHIP 9 MOSAIC
FRIENDSHIP 9 MOSAIC

The design team conducted civil rights workshops with Rock Hill students during the spring of 2015. The Friendship Nine mosaic, placed at a corner of the 139 Main Building within the walkway, was inspired by an art project from a 5th grade team from Ebinport Elementary. The notion of freedom is expressed by the exploding bricks in this dynamic design.

OBSTACLES
OBSTACLES

Boulders are placed within the walkway to symbolize obstacles. Obstacles to progress were ever present during the civil rights movement and are still present today.

OKRA
OKRA

Native to Africa, okra is a historically important plant to African-American people. Cream colored flowers and pentagonal cross sections of the fruit are depicted in the OKRA mosaic and painted on the brick wall.

TEXTILE MOSAIC
TEXTILE MOSAIC

Inspired by a visit to the fabric library at Springs Creative, the TEXTILE mosaic is an homage to the textile history of the city. Blue and green threads weave together and speak to the tight knit nature of the Rock Hill community.

SCHWEINITZ SUNFLOWERS
SCHWEINITZ SUNFLOWERS

The Carolina Piedmont region once contained large expanses of prairie, dotted with trees and shrubs within fields of grasses and wildflowers. The Schweinitz sunflower is a remnant of this historic landscape type. The plant is now designated as federally endangered. This drought tolerant plant grows between 6'-14' in height and flowers yellow in October. It grows in shallow clay soils along road sides and in a few remaining prairies.

THE BEACON
THE BEACON

The original chimney that is part of the brick wall is painted a dark blue, a color that has historically symbolized protection in the African-American community in South Carolina. Illuminated at night, this feature is a beacon of hope.

9 STOOLS
9 STOOLS

Nine cylinders of grey granite are embedded within the TURBULENCE and OKRA mosaics along the brick wall of the walkway. They symbolize the stools that the Friendship 9 sat in during the McCrory Building sit-in of 1961.

BRICK WALL
BRICK WALL

The first Woolworth's store in Rock Hill opened in 1916 and was once one of downtown's main shopping destinations. A fire destroyed the original building in 1934 and was rebuilt in 1935. This building was demolished in 2014 due to significant roof damage and to make way for a new building and walkway. Remnants of painted advertisements along the east brick wall were revealed once the building came down.

SPIDER LILIES AND SPHINX MOTHS
SPIDER LILIES AND SPHINX MOTHS

Once abundant throughout the Catawba River, the hydroelectric damming of the river has decimated the population of the rocky shoals spider lily. One of the largest stands of the rocky shoals spider lilies in the world occur along Landsford Canal State Park. Witnessing the profusion of spring blooms in the river is breathtaking.

DOGWOOD FLOWERS
DOGWOOD FLOWERS

White dogwood flowers float at the top of the brick wall, recalling the springtime blooms of the forest understory. Dogwood flowers represent peace.

BASKETWEAVE
BASKETWEAVE

Bands of curving running bond patterns of brick pavers flow at each end of the walkway like a river, encouraging movement through the space. LED river lights glow blue at night along the curves. Inspired by the basket making tradition of the Catawba Indians, the pattern changes into basketweave at gathering spaces. Red and cocoa brick bands come together into an interlocking pattern within these social spaces. Basketweave represents reconciliation and connectedness.

PLANTS
PLANTS

Plants are represented in both living and painted forms. Flowers emerged as a key theme during the design team's community meetings. The native and historic plants of Rock Hill - dogwoods, okra, sunflowers, and spider lilies are exuberantly depicted within the mural on the brick wall. A grouping of black tupelo trees provide shade, structure, and color within the Old Town Market. Drifts of shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennials provide year round texture and color.

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