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Mural completed outside East H.S. honoring Malcolm X, Minister Franklin Florence and Constance Mitchell

East High School mural
Max Schulte
The mural outside East H.S. based on a 1965 photo of Malcolm X (center) with Minister Franklin Florence and Constance Mitchell

A mural honoring civil rights leader Malcolm X, along with key local figures in the civil rights movement, including Minister Franklin Florence and Constance Mitchell, has now been completed outside East High School.

East High School Mural celebration
Max Schulte
Celebrating the completion of the mural at East H.S. (L-R) Minister Clifford Florence, artist Ephraim Gebre, Constance Mitchell-Jefferson and East H.S. Supt. Shaun Nelms.

Local officials gathered there Thursday afternoon to hear from family members and local government leaders.

Minister Clifford Florence was there, on behalf of his father, who was not able to be at the ceremony. Florence talked about doing the work needed to create change.

“We need to come together as a community, we need to come and organize a movement that will make change, starting with the Black family, because we know that when Black people are successful, everybody can be successful,” said Florence.

The mural at East High School is based on a 1965 photograph of Malcolm X, Constance Mitchell and Franklin Florence.

Malcolm X gave his final public speech in Rochester at that time at Corn Hill Methodist Church. He was assassinated five days later in Harlem.

Mitchell’s daughter, Constance Mitchell-Jefferson, addressed Thursday’s celebration of the completion of the mural by reciting something her mother wrote years ago, when Constance Mitchell talked about various problems in the city involving issues like guns, and drugs.

Her mother wrote those comments after Malcolm X was killed, and she imagined what the civil rights leader would say if he were still alive when she wrote those words some years ago.

“I can only guess that he would encourage you, as politicians, as citizens, and as people and to bring change and to take a serious look at our community and build on the foundation that was laid with sweat, pain, disappointment and determination by others before you,” wrote Constance Mitchell in comments that her daughter read to the assembled community leaders on Thursday at East High School.

Constance Mitchell and Malcolm X shared the same birthday, which was May 19.

Mitchell was the first African American woman elected in Monroe County. She was a member of the Board of Supervisors, which preceded the Monroe County Legislature.