Selected Testimonials

On the last day of the 1983 summer project, each of the Mural Makers sat down to write about his/her experiences of working on the mural. The following are excerpts from their thoughts. Testimonials featured on KCET, click here.

This was definitely not a waste of my time. I feel I have accomplished something very worthwhile. I have educated myself and with the work I have done I will help to educate countless others, I have never been involved with the creating of a landmark before, but if I had a choice of any the mural is the one I would choose. The fact that this mural is recognized internationally is very exciting and has fulfilled my dream of doing something with international impact. I’m not just a Mural Maker, I’m a history maker and proud of the history on the wall I got the chance to show.

– Kelly Watts, age 19
Third summer on the project.

If I can come back next year I would come back right away. I have a lot of feelings that I can’t explain on paper. All I can say is I wish everybody the best of luck in the future and I wish Judy all the success that she needs to continue.

– Robert Martinez, age 18
Third summer on the project.

It’s been great working at the Great Wall and having a large family of forty. I bet you can’t top that I’ve learned to get along with people of all colors and the responsibility of doing for myself. I would do it again. But it was not all fun and play. It takes time to get things all together. But still in all, the best part is getting to the end and looking back at what you helped do. – Rena Robinson, age 17 First summer on the project.

In today’s society where there’s not many constructive and positive activities or happenings, this mural is a very positive thing. Where else can kids from all kinds of cultural backgrounds come together and work towards a goal. I have found this experience to be very rewarding and got a lot out of it. The work was very hard at times but the finishing product was well worth the effort, you know, the end justifying the means. There were times when I had my bad days but mostly they were great. I’m very proud that I worked on the mural this year and if there’s any way possible I would more than happily come back next year. It got to the point where I didn’t care if I was getting paid or not, but the pay was nice to get for it. It’s kind of neat knowing that you’re becoming part of history and that it’s a community project that people will appreciate.

– Michelle Russell, age 21
First summer on the project.

To me the mural means a piece of art, it means workmanship among others, it means a part of ourselves, also making new friends, doing a good job and having lots of fun.

– Alex Alvarez, age 14
First summer on the project.

There’s one way to describe our worksite of people and that is we are one Big Family and I hope when the public comes to admire our mural they’ll share the magic and emotion that our crew shared with one another.

– Nancy Jane Avila, age 17
First summer on the project.

This was my second year on the mural, but it was a completely new experience. The group feeling was tremendous, stronger and sooner than two years ago. This year had obstacles that weren’t present previously, and this unity kept us going, because we were so proud of our unity that the idea of giving up after the flood, and splitting the crew, was inconceivable. After my first year on the mural, I left with a sense of who I was and what I could do that was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. The feeling came from encountering people of different backgrounds and outlooks, and confronting history from new perspectives, and seeing what I was personally capable of at a time in my life when my self‑confidence had been extremely low. This year was different largely because I had been changed by my earlier experience with the mural. The feelings of identity and pride came in new ways. Because of the unity we shared, I feel now that everything on the mural is my history, in a deeper way than I think I felt before.

– Todd Ableser, age 18
Second summer on the project.

Being a crew leader and all, it gave me responsibility and an incentive to perform the desired duties to its full extent. It was hard to ask a friend to do a difficult job but in time everything fell into place. I want this mural to continue forever. I hope we paint in the summer of 1984 and every year after. I was a born surfer and I gave up the beach for the project and I will always be dedicated.

– Marc Meisels, age 18

This year has definitely been a year to remember, with the accident of the weather and the media. But in the end we pulled through. Everyone now seems to know the spirit of unity: sharing, caring and working it out. – Esther Martinez, age 19 Third summer on the project
The mural project is composed of a group of young people working toward one mutual goal: the completion of a work of art from which will come an in‑depth look to the drama and importance of many great persons who have worked toward the banishment of racial injustice, discrimination, and human struggle. These are goals that we, as Mural Makers see daily working on the mural. There is a feeling of camaraderie and friendship among the persons. Out of this bond shall be initiated another strong addition to the Great Wall. – Glenn Cho, age 16 First summer on the project

When I started working here I did it for the money, then I began to take great pride in the mural and in the Chicano section in particular. At first I didn’t think an assortment of races could work together because in my neighborhood there is primarily one race. This project made me realize that the prejudices I had inside me were not only false but also ignorant. I only wish all mankind could have gone through this experience with me. I regret that when I leave here my new attitude will change back to before. I hope that when people see this mural they forget all their prejudices and try to live with all people, no matter what race, in peace.

– Sergio Moreno, age 16
First summer on the project

Selected Public Reviews

To see more reviews on YELP

This is one of the coolest things I discovered when I moved to Los Angeles. It really makes you respect how LA as a community values art and history to create such an awesome collaborative work of diverse artists that tells the story of America from the beginning of time to the late 1970′s. It made me think damn I made the right decision to move to LA from Texas.

This wall is amazing because the art is really well done, it’s a mural so each scene segues into the next scene smoothly and gracefully, and it teaches an interesting history lesson that makes you feel like you’re really learning something without trying. So it’s knowledge without effort, which is always best!

The wall ends thematically at the late 1970′s. It’s time to bring the Great Wall of LA up to date! Artists, ready your paintbrushes. Philanthropists, get out your moneypurses and let’s make more history!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

Back when I was taking my California Cultures class at CSUF, my professor would frequently reference the Great Wall of Los Angeles in his teachings since this extensive mural covers so many points in history — especially those that high schools here tend to skip over.

Need proof? While Lee A. and I walked along the fence, a group of teenagers (looked to be about seniors in high school) were heading in the opposite direction, toward us. As we were neared each other, Lee and I could hear them addressing the Manzanar section of the mural. Of the six of them, only one knew what it was about and started to explain the Japanese internment as best she could while the others listened with shocked expressions.

The mural has the expected historic milestones (the Chumash, Spanish conquest and the missions, the Gold Rush, the world wars, the citrus industry, Hollywood, etc). But it also includes the assimilation of American Indians, the Chinese Massacre of 1871, the Beats, the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, the division of the barrios and Chavez Ravine, white flight, the roles of women during the wars, the deportation of half a million Mexican Americans during the 1930s, Israel refugees, and as mentioned Manzanar and the “Go For Broke” Fighting 442nd.

I mean, so quickly people forget how others were dragged out of their homes, which were bulldozed behind them, and Dodger Stadium was built on the land.

The recent restoration is GLORIOUS. The mural is no longer peeling and the colors are so solid and vibrant. There’s so much to learn from the mural as each moment in history melts into the next.

It’s viewable from the park above the flood control wash. Best to park near Coldwater Canyon Ave and Burbank Blvd, where the mural begin (If you see a prehistoric ground sloth sticking its tongue out at the rest of the mural, you’re in good shape), and walk along the fence, parallel to Coldwater Canyon, toward Oxnard Street.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

Often I get a little envious that most of the historical landmarks that have set identity to this country are found around the East Coast. After my visit to The Great Wall of LA, that envy is no more!

Outside of the cookie cutter history books that are written from one perspective, The Great Wall involved a diverse group of young individuals with their families working with historians, artists and academicians to give an accurate and personal presentation of California/Los Angeles history!

It cost nothing but a drive to Valley Glen College to enjoy this amazing mural! Not only is there art to be enjoyed but there is a belt of grass along with a pathway around the mural that is great for a little power walk! ha ha Parking is easily available and there is plenty of shade, perhaps in a warm day!

This is a definite treasure of LA. The issues and events that are depicted in the panels are some that are still being fought about in the present time! It is an indescribable feeling learning more that LA is not just a place of aesthetics and money! It is a place of progression and enriching cultures!

You will not regret your visit!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars