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Mural honoring 96-year-old woman fatally stabbed with a pitchfork unveiled in Gresham

About a dozen of Jackson’s mask-wearing family members gathered and took pictures and selfies with the freshly dried mural located near 75th Place and Ashland Avenue.

Cletora Kirkman takes a selfie with a family member at a mural honoring her mother, Myrtis Jackson, in Gresham on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Emotions ran high Wednesday as the family of Myrtis Jackson, the woman who was fatally stabbed with a pitchfork by her grandson this summer, went to see the mural in Gresham painted in honor of their beloved matriarch on what would’ve been her 97th birthday.

A dozen of Jackson’s mask-wearing family members gathered and took pictures and selfies with the freshly dried mural located near 75th Place and Ashland Avenue.

“I’m very emotional, driving up I was tearing up,” Jackson’s granddaughter, Chataun Kirkman, said. “Every year since she’s turned 90 we’ve thrown her a birthday party, so we’re still going to celebrate, just family.”

Artist Corbin DeShazo, 28, said the goal of the mural — that took four days to complete — was to bring awareness to domestic violence. That’s why the background of the artwork is various shades of purple and lavender, which happened to also be Jackson’s favorite color.

When Jackson’s daughter, Cletora Kirkman, first saw the mural, she was nearly speechless.

“I don’t want to cry but I love it, I love it,” Kirkman said. “She would’ve been crazy about it; that is so nice.”

Family members of Myrtis Jackson observe a mural dedicated to domestic violence awareness honoring Jackson at 75th Place and South Ashland Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The last four months have been “pure hell” for Kirkman, who was with Jackson in their Gresham home on July 7 when Kirkman’s son, Dujuan Randle, attacked the two women with a pitchfork, killing Jackson. Kirkman suffered multiple stab wounds and said her son also ruptured her eardrum when he kicked her head.

Randle has since pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial, according to court records.

Kirkman, who has post-traumatic stress disorder from the attack, said she’ll never forgive her son for what he did to her and her mother. However, she felt at peace — at least for a brief moment — on Wednesday as she stared at the mural surrounded by family.

“In a way it does [bring me some closure],” Kirkman said. “[My son] hadn’t taken his medication in almost two years and he was getting worse and worse.”

After the unveiling of the mural, the family was planning to celebrate Jackson’s birthday as they would’ve if she were still here.

“At first, I said I wasn’t going to go because of COVID, but then I changed my mind,” Kirkman said. “We’re going to celebrate her birthday.”

The community-funded artwork sponsored by Mama 2 Mama Gifts and the Simple Good organizations features the family’s favorite portrait of Jackson surrounded by red flowers, with a quote.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times