Proposed mural adds 'Jim', curator of Jim's Journey welcomes inclusion of black man

Mural artist Ray Harvey has made changes to the proposed painting that would adorn a wall at Hannibal City Hall if a funding campaign progresses as planned.
By Doug Wilson, Courier-Post Managing Editor
Posted: Sep. 3, 2019 2:38 pm

HANNIBAL ­— Jim, the runaway slave from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huck Finn, has been added to the mural design planned for Hannibal City Hall as donors continue to pledge support for the effort.

Ray Harvey, the artist who will create the 40-by-70-foot mural on a blank, "ugly wall" on city hall, said fund-raising efforts through the online Kickstarter site are going well.

"We’ve got about $9,000 of the $15,000 raised to pay for the mural. We’ve got until noon on Sept. 8 to hit that $15,000 or we fail," Harvey said.

He said Kickstarter is a unique fund-raising site because it accepts online pledges, but if the effort falls short of a goal, none of the donations are processed.

"What people don’t always understand is that if we end up with $14,999, it failed and none of the money is collected" from debit or credit cards that donors use on Kickstarter, Harvey said.

Money raised through the campaign will help pay for special paint that Harvey said will cost about $200 a gallon. It also will pay for rental of a lift that will be used to elevate the artist as he paints the wall.

Mayor Jim Hark said when the mural campaign began that no Hannibal tax dollars will be used. He said the fund-raising effort would allow people who want to see the mural painted to lend support.

Faye Dant, director of Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center, had been concerned when she saw earlier conceptual drawings of the mural because they didn’t include any people of color.

"I consider Mark Twain a warrior of social justice" whose literary works helped introduce America to the plight of African Americans, Dant said.

In part of the Jim’s Journey building, Dant shares information about how a young Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain, was influenced by his relationship with Daniel Quarles, an African American man who was a slave on the farm of Clemens’ uncle near Florida, Mo. She said leaving African Americans off the mural would have been a mistake.

"I’m just ecstatic that we’ll have Jim on this mural," Dant said.

Harvey said the mural also will have Hannibal native Molly Brown depicted. The image of Twain’s face will be superimposed in the central part of the frame, with a young boy and at right will be Jim, using a pole to propel a river raft.

At age 61, Harvey has done more than 500 murals and lives in New Haven, Mo.

Until the fund campaign concludes, Harvey said he’ll be nervous, but optimistic. He said the people of Hannibal seem to want the mural and are pleased that it can be done without using tax dollars.

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