ESPN camera crew documents old Lincoln School mural

When Mannie Jackson went to school as a kid before the end of segregation, the old Lincoln School served as a segregated place for African American children like him to learn.

Fast forward to more than a year ago and the side of old Lincoln School, located on 1210 North Main St. in Edwardsville, is covered by a brightly painted mural. The mural became Jackson’s brainchild, and he called upon SIUE students and Chair of the Art and Design Department, John DenHouter.

On Friday, a small camera crew from ESPN’s Big Ten Network set up shop in front of the mural to shoot video for a new documentary about Jackson’s life, which should air in February.

Jackson graduated from Edwardsville High School and pursued his passion for basketball at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Not long after, The New York Knicks drafted him to become part of the National Basketball Association. Even then, however, Jackson was not granted his NBA dream because at that time only a certain number of black players were acceptable per team, DenHouter said.

Jackson went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters and went back to school to obtain his master’s degree in business, and ended up owning part of the team. He never forgot his roots that held on to Edwardsville, though, especially his grade school.

“He was very successful not in terms of only athletics but also business,” DenHouter said. “He came to us (in the art department) and said, ‘I’m going to buy that building and I’m going to gut it and renovate it and in the process I’d like to have a nice mural on the outside’.”

DenHouter worked with Jackson and other SIUE students, including Mike Wartgow, Nick Martin, Alissia Hartjock and Zack Koch in order to complete the mural that has stood since last February.

“It’s sort of patriotic and it sort of pays homage to his youth or adolescence growing up in Edwardsville,” DenHouter said. “It was sort of a long, drawn out process but it came together in the end.”

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