Having brought more than 500 stories to life over the course of his more than 25-year career, the late 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley is driving one more item into the news, this time as the subject of the story.
Bradley, who died at age 65 in November 2006, is at the forefront of a new mural by Mural Arts Philadelphia honoring his legacy. The colorful portrait was produced by artist Ernel Martinez with the help of kids from several area schools and is to have a public dedication Saturday.
Completed on April 1, the year-long project decorates the outside of a building at 949 Belmont Ave. in West Philadelphia, the neighborhood where Bradley grew up.
“We always look for suggestions on subjects who were change agents from Philadelphia and that have made a significant social and civic difference to our city,” said Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia. “Ed Bradley broke down racial barriers and built an incredible body of work in broadcast journalism, while showing the entire nation that perspectives of color are vital to our nation.”
Bradley got his start as a journalist at Philadelphia’s WDAS-AM. Best known for his 26-year stint on 60 Minutes, Bradley was the first African American television correspondent to cover the White House and received dozens of journalism awards, including Emmys, DuPonts, Peabodys, and the George Polk and Paul White Awards.
He interviewed many prominent people, encounters that are interwoven throughout the Belmont mural. Positioned front and center looking out at the viewer, Bradley is surrounded by scenes where he’s connecting with Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, President Jimmy Carter, and Toni Morrison. Also in the background are images showing Bradley with his wife, Patricia Blanchet, and his deep affinity for music, particularly jazz.
Around 100 students played a part in shaping the mural, including ones from St. Ignatius School, where Bradley spent his grade school years, as well as Blankenburg School and Mastery Mann School. Last June, 50 kids were nominated to travel to CBS’s New York studios, where they had the chance to be further exposed to the world of broadcasting and learn more about Bradley’s career.
The dedication ceremony Saturday, which begins at noon, is likely to bring out some of the students as well as friends and former colleagues of Bradley, including Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes, Charlayne Hunter-Gault of NPR and PBS, and Ukee Washington of CBS3. Food vendors including Oink and Moo BBQ, Pbon’s Fresh Phood, and Lil Pop Shop will also fill the area, and entertainment will be provided by the Urban Guerrilla Orchestra, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Sister Cities Girlchoir, and Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble.
“Ed Bradley was beloved by the world, but he was from Philadelphia, which always held a very strong place in his heart,” said Golden. “We as citizens of the city should be proud to have him among the many heroes that called Philadelphia home.”