When we think of heroes, often the figures that come to mind are larger-than-life personalities who are known all over the world for accomplishing incredible feats. However, not every hero’s story is known the world over. Many are only remembered by the communities they most affected, which keep their memories alive today through oral history—and elaborate murals. While their names may not appear in every history book, their impact on the world is no less significant. To the communities who remember them the most, Superman couldn’t hold a candle to their heroism.
Along West Street in Annapolis, Maryland, stands a colorful, touching tribute to a man who kept his neighborhood clean. For decades, Carlester Smith picked up trash during his daily walks in the neighborhood. After arthritis left Smith homebound, Annapolis artist Comacell Brown, Jr. and a team crafted this mural to honor Smith’s humble contributions. On a nondescript street in Darlington, England, is a black-and-white portrait of the world’s first Black professional football player. Despite arriving in England from Ghana to pursue a religious career, Warton joined the Darlington club as a goalkeeper. From a mural dedicated to a group of teens who stood up to the Nazis to a painting dedicated to the “father of Irish tourism,” these are 13 murals dedicated to local heroes.