As George Dixon mural unveiled in Africville, calls for safer access to park rise

A mural commemorating world-renowned boxer George Dixon was unveiled outside the Africville Museum in Halifax on Saturday afternoon.

“There was no better sound than the sound of people’s awes when it dropped. It’s bigger than life, it’s very prominent — as he was,” said Juanita Peters, executive director of the museum.

Dixon was born in the community — now a park — on July 29, 1870. He would have turned 150 this month.

After leaving for Boston as a teenager to launch his fight career, he eventually held titles at bantamweight, featherweight and paperweight. 

The mural was painted on the sides of a shipping container used for storage and it can be seen from all directions.

The City of Halifax demolished Africville in the 1960s, but a few homes were relocated. Ada Adams has one of them. She hopes the George Dixon mural will become a conversation starter.

“With the whole Black Lives Matter movement, this is a big part of it,” Adams said.

“There’s a lot of history in the Black community and George Dixon is just a very small part of it. So I’m happy to see that there’s this mural here in back of us. It means a lot to us as a people.”

Ada Adams, who lives in Africville, said she hopes the art installation acts as a conversation starter. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Kirk Johnson, a former professional boxer from North Preston, said Dixon inspired him.

“It’s an honour to be here today to celebrate his name and I just hope many more people find out who he is,” Johnson said.

‘It’s quite a dangerous walk to get here’

Those who attended the unveiling on foot and on bikes wanted to highlight the need for better public transit and safe pedestrian infrastructure to the park. There are no bus routes that directly go there.

“It’s quite a dangerous walk to get here,” Irvine Carvery, president of the Africville Genealogy Society. “Most of it is no sidewalks, it’s the approach to and from the [MacKay] bridge, so traffic is very, very heavy.”

Irvine Carvery is president of the Africville Genealogy Society. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

Carvery lived in Africville until he was 13.

Even back then, he said there were no bus routes to the community. He said heavy truck traffic along Barrington Street also makes the commute on foot and by bike less safe.

The only other way to get to the park is coming off Bayne Street, but Carvery said most people don’t know about that route.

No sidewalks approaching Africville Park. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

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