An elaborate sculptured brick frieze crowning the University of Tennessee’s 13,700-square foot Black Cultural Center chronicles the historical journey of African Americans. The 5-feet high by 80-feet wide mural spans the top of a curved exterior wall that evokes the shape of Africa’s west coast. Brick sculptor Sue Landerman collaborated with Knoxville artist Alan Jones to design and produce the brick frieze.

Jones sketched 53 portraits of renowned political and cultural figures, while she and Landerman fashioned scenes representing slavery, religious worship, and civil rights activism. The portraits and scenes were then grouped into 12 image clusters and arranged in a time progression, unified by a scroll that unfurls from end-to-end of the mural, working its way into the imagery and finishing as a diploma in the hand of a graduate.

Landerman spent six weeks carving the frieze.