Ed Bradley's mark on Philly illustrated through colorful career

Cherri Gregg
May 16, 2018 - 5:08 pm
Mural Arts Philadelphia unveiled a new mural of the longtime CBS News broadcaster in the neighborhood where the legend grew up.

Cherri Gregg | KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Standing three stories high in his childhood neighborhood, a new mural in West Philadelphia honors the late legendary journalist Ed Bradley.

Mural Arts Philadelphia unveiled the new project of the longtime CBS News broadcaster in the neighborhood where the legend grew up.

"It's more than just an image on a wall — it's really, I hope, a catalyst for commufnity change," said Patricia Blanchet. The Swarthmore graduate spoke of her late husband's life and legacy, from his childhood in West Philadelphia, education at St. Ignatius School and Cheyney University, and his first jobs as a teacher and DJ at WDAS, which helped launch his award-winning journalism career that broke barriers in TV news.

"Ed did well, while doing good," she said, noting that he was a humble man who would have been surprised by the honor. "Of course, he'd ask me, 'How's it look, how do I look, did they get the earring right?' "

His iconic earring is prominently featured on the mural, embellished by his pin-stripped suit and a purple pocket square.

The mural's background — which is located at the corner of Wyalusing and Belmont avenues in what he called the "Black Bottom" section of West Philadelphia — illustrates images of the icon at significant points in his life and career in an impressionist style.

"He never lost his swag," said Ernel Martinez, the artist who designed and created the mural. He said his goal was to show Bradley as a success who stayed true to his roots.

Bradley was the first Black journalist to become a White House correspondent. He was a highly esteemed journalist most known for his 26 years as a correspondent on 60 Minutes, where he received dozens of prestigious awards for his work. Prior to 60 Minutes, Bradley was a war correspondent for CBS, covering the war in Cambodia. He was a news anchor on CBS, with his own broadcast, CBS Sunday Night News with Ed Bradley.

Bradley was just 65 years old when he died on Nov. 9, 2006, of complications from lymphocytic leukemia.

Mural Arts will dedicate the wall with a celebration June 16.

Leroy McCarthy, a fellow alumnus of Cheyney University, initiated the efforts for the Ed Bradley Mural. He also was the catalyst for the 2015 naming of Ed Bradley Way on City Line Avenue. McCarthy is currently leading an effort to get a historic marker to honor him as well.

"Ed would tell the story of America, but through the eyes of a Black man. To me, that was pretty amazing," Martinez added. "It shows you can be educated, you can be cultured, but you can still have your edge, and I think Philly sort of inspires that."

Panels of the mural were created on 6-by-6-foot squares of parachute cloth — and enabled students and members of the public to participate in its creation. 

Last summer, a busload of students from St. Ignatius joined members of the community in a trip to the 60 Minutes and CBS News studios in New York, where they painted panels of the mural alongside journalist icons like Bill Whitaker and Leslie Stahl. 

"[Ed Bradley] showed the entire country that the perspectives of people of color are vital to all of us," said Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden.