CASPER, Wyo. – A Casper hero is finally getting the recognition he has long deserved in his hometown.
A mural celebrating the life and achievements of the Rev. James Reeb was dedicated on Wednesday evening in downtown Casper.
The rear east-facing wall of a building on 255 South David Street was donated as a canvas by the building’s owner and can be seen from Center Street.
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Reeb’s granddaughter, Leah Reeb Varela, attended the ceremony and spoke of her grandfather’s lasting legacy.
Rev. Reeb was a Natrona County High School graduate who, after serving in the Army, earned his theological degree at Princeton.
He returned to Casper and was ordained at the First Presbyterian Church before eventually moving to Boston.
Reeb was moved by the stories and images of civil rights protesters he saw on TV. He went to Selma and joined protests supporting African American voting rights.
After eating in a non-segregated restaurant, he and two other ministers were beaten by white supremacists. Reeb died days later from injuries to his brain.
Three men accused of the attack were later acquitted and the case remains unsolved.
This year, NPR’s “White Lies” crime podcast featured an investigation on the murder of Reeb, and uncovered the identity of a previously-unknown fourth assailant in the attack. The producers of podcast the were also in Casper to give a presentation at The Table after the dedication on Wednesday.
The mural, painted by Casper artist Tony Elmore, depicts Reeb’s life in Kansas and Casper, as well as Reeb standing arm-in-arm with other historical civil rights activists.
One of the mural’s organizers, the Casper Mural Project, hopes to use more of the walls around the Reeb mural for more local art, and eventually make the area a gathering place and corridor between downtown and the Old Yellowstone District.
NOTE: This story was originally published on Aug. 29, 2019. Oil City is re-running the post on Martin Luther King Jr. Day due to Reeb’s connection with the civil rights movement.