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Should this San Francisco School Board Save a Controversial Mural?

August 15, 2019


 

 

This school board has been at odds about what to do, or not to do regarding a series of murals. After initially deciding to paint over the images, they have reconsidered. They are now looking to cover them up while still preserving them. The controversial series is titled “The Life of Washington”. They include a rather graphic image of a deceased Native American, as well as an image of slaves at work in a field. This issue struck a chord with me, as it was not what I expected of so-called “offensive artwork” that was painted during the Great Depression. We often argue about whether or not to change an inappropriate and outdated mascot or school namesake. But in this situation, those who may typically fight in the name of preserving history are now fighting against a too realistic depiction of our first president. Those fighting to preserve the murals include the NAACP, who recognize that the murals more accurately depict the racist past (and arguably present) of our country. Was covering up yet preserving the images the right decision? Should the images be left visible in the school as a haunting reminder of the country we once were? Or should the images be painted over simply because they are offensive and disturbing, and this is a school?

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