San Francisco’s chapter of the NAACP is now urging the school board to reconsider plans to paint over an 83-year-old mural at George Washington High School.
That may come as a surprise to some, considering the mural depicts scenes of slavery and the slaughter of Native Americans.
The school board voted last month to “paint or panel over” the Life of Washington mural that features slaves and a dead Native American. The board deemed the 1936 painting offensive.
On Tuesday, leaders of the NAACP’s local chapter called on the board to rethink that decision and use the mural as a teaching tool.
The images painted by Russian American Victor Arnautoff are classic examples of new deal art commissioned by the government during the Great Depression. The district last week briefly opened the mural for public viewing — images of George Washington, alongside slaves working in a field and a dead Native American have raised passions.
District trustees commissioned a working group and the majority expressed the mural does not reflect the school district’s values and it should go.
On Tuesday, local civil rights leaders made clear their opposition to the board’s decision.
“The mural must not come down,” said Rev. Amos Brown, adding the school board cannot “white wash” history.
“We must never forget that fact and that reality,” Brown said.
Nearly 50 years ago, muralist Dewey Crumpler pained an alternate mural at George Washington High. Crumpler on Tuesday also called on the district to use the murals to teach incoming freshmen.
NBC Bay Area reached out the president of the San Francisco Unified School District board president for comment, but has yet to hear back.
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