Join the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, the City of Grand Rapids, Lions & Rabbits and numerous community partners in a celebration of the Women’s Way Murals. Every Wednesday in September we will be holding a ribbon cutting to feature each completed Women’s Way Mural in downtown Grand Rapids. Along with the ribbon cutting these events will also include local artist performances, a video on the background of the women of the murals, and time to mingle with food and drinks!
On Wednesday, September 15th from 7pm to 8pm we will be celebrating the Molly Ortiz Blakely mural located in the alley next to Sanchez Bistro.
Maurilia Ortiz Blakely (1928 – 2015)
Maurilia Ortiz Blakely was a role model, a champion for minority women’s rights, an activist for the poor and an advocate for higher education.
Orphaned at an early age, her maternal aunt raised her to have great respect for their Mexican heritage and to help the less fortunate. A divorced working mother of five, Blakely was a force in her community and helped organize Grand Rapids’ first Mexican Festival in 1970.
After graduating from college with a degree in Social Work at age 51, she assisted Latinx students, women, migrants, the homeless, and the unemployed and helped to establish the Hispanic Institute. Among her many honors was a Grand Rapids Lifetime Achievement Award.
“This portrait of Maurilia “Molly” Ortiz Blakely intends to depict her strength as a woman, her humility and the pride she had for her culture, family and community. I was inspired by her ability to command respect while encouraging love as well as her perseverance to help others reach for the stars.” Statement by Artist Arturo Romero.
The Women’s Way Initiative aspires to elevate the historical narratives of exceptional local leaders while adding new energy and creative interest to often-overlooked public places. The initiative also boldly endeavors to acknowledge the complicated history of women in alleyways and help claim positive ownership of these spaces. Organized by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, the City of Grand Rapids, Lions & Rabbits and numerous community partners.