MILWAUKEE — Student-artists hope their artwork will inspire inclusion and representation on the campus of Marquette University.
When you walk into the temporary home for the Black Student Union on the campus of Marquette University, students will find a massive black panther to greet them. Student-artist Mario Hamilton says it's not to scare, but inspire.
"It's breaking through blocks in the past using the pan-African flag. It makes me feel real proud," said Hamilton.
Hamilton is one of two seniors at Marquette chosen to create two murals highlighting symbols and great leaders in African American culture.
The murals were a way for these students to express their pride, and also to encourage the next generation of students who attend Marquette.
Emanuel Johnson, the other student-artist, will graduate this year and looks forward to a career in teaching.
"Empowering our youth has always been our key goal," said Johnson.
African-American students make up less than 5 percent of the student body. The administration says it is making a conscious effort to let those who are here know they are supported and welcomed.
Joya Crear, the assistant vice president of student affairs, sees the artwork on campus as one way the administration is listening to the voices of under represented students and giving them a space to be heard.
"As an administrator, it's empowering to see their talent on display," said Crear. "I told them it's like sending us an autograph - 'I was here and I made a difference.'"
The graduation rate of students of color paints a brighter picture: 80 percent of Hispanic students and 71 percent of African American students walk away with a diploma. Helping retain student programs like the Education Opportunity Program [click here for details] is vital for minority students finishing their education at Marquette University.