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New Eastlake Park mural features groundbreaking Phoenix people of color as part of NCAA project

When single mother Elizabeth White traveled from Texas to Arizona in 1964 and opened Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe, she never imagined the tremendous impact it would have on the community.

Despite how segregation created hurdles for local businesses, White remained true to serving up traditional dishes. Now, Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe is a Phoenix gem, attracting people from all across the Valley.

White, now 101 years old, is just one of the groundbreaking Phoenix people of color featured on a new mural at the Eastlake Park Community Center, courtesy of the NCAA Men’s Final Four Legacy Project. The mural is just one part of the project that also refurbished indoor and outdoor basketball courts and a weight room at the center.

The mural features George Greathouse; Alexis Thomas; Lincoln Ragsdale; Morrison Warren; Virgil J. Berry Sr.; Calvin Goode; Cloves Campbell; Helen Mason; Benjamin Thomas; White and Warren Stewart.

Eastlake, known as “Phoenix Park” in the 1890s, has been the focal point of the city’s African American history for much of its existence.

The online history of the Eastlake Park Community Center notes that the park was home of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, and many other events.

"The park has been home to many civil rights rallies, visits from civil right leaders and the starting point of all civil rights marches to the Capitol. It is home to the Annual Juneteenth Celebration and the Phoenix Arts Commission Civil Rights Memorial,” according to the history by Phoenix Parks and Recreation.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego thanked the NCAA for choosing Phoenix for the Final Four and for “making sure our entire community gets to be part of this great event.”

Last spring, applications were accepted for the Legacy Project from the Phoenix community at large. The community center was chosen for a grant of $110,000 to refurbish its indoor and outdoor basketball courts and facility.

“As we looked at our options, it was clear that the Eastlake Community Center was a special place,” said Bryn Davis Williams with Degree Deodorant, which sponsored this year’s legacy project.

Gov. Katie Hobbs joined local leaders, NCAA officials and the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee in unveiling the project.

“I know it’s been a wild few weeks of some stellar basketball, and it’s great to see all of that energy culminating in this week’s games right here in Phoenix,” Hobbs said. “The eyes of the world are on Arizona this week.”

Hobbs said the mural that was a part of the project is in honor of the “pioneers of Eastlake Park.” The mural consisted of 11 people of color who helped shape Phoenix, including Elizabeth White.

“God blessed us with many, many famous people,” White said at Tuesday’s unveiling.