Forest Forward held a day of activities for the South Dallas community during Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade.
Activities began with an interactive, paint-by-number Forest Forward mural designed by Texas muralist Lakeem Wilson. There was also a dance performance by the Soul Inspirational Line Dancers.
A caricature artist and face painting table for kids were also set out for the day while the parade went on throughout the afternoon.
With feedback from the directors and coordinators of Forest Forward, Wilson says they decided some art on the side of the building would be good for the community since it had been blank for so long.
“I just came up with a design that was simple enough for everybody to work with, and it’s aligned with their brand,” he says. “And we figured paint by numbers and made it to where multiple people can work on it at one time. It was like a community mural, and we thought it would be a great idea to get the community involved.”
Forest Forward Director of Community Engagement LaSheryl Walker kept everyone in attendance updated on the run of things, from group photos for sororities and other organizations to where to get food. She also announced tours of the Forest Theatre would be available after the parade.
An informational table for Forest Forward and how the organization is working toward the historic theater’s restoration and bringing arts and culture back to it was set up in front of another mural by a teacher at the MLK Jr. Arts Academy.
The organization appreciated the turnout and were excited with how many people came out to support, according to Forest Forward Director of Strategic Partnerships Ashley Wilson.
“I think this is always a day of celebration, it’s great to see so many people out at the theater,” she says. “We are happy to be able to provide a spot where people can celebrate MLK, what the day is all about, and continue to enhance all of these communities.”
Forest Forward is a nonprofit working in the South Dallas community to restore the Forest Theater and provide Dallas students access to the arts. Through a public-private partnership with Dallas ISD, the MLK Jr. Learning Center was recently converted to MLK Jr. Arts Academy.