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Mural of George Washington that ‘traumatizes students’ to be covered up

There’s plans in the works to cover a mural of George Washington from the halls of George Washington High School in San Francisco due to complaints that it’s offensive and demeaning to Native Americans and African Americans.

The San Francisco school board is expected to decide next week whether to cover the image or paint over it, but there’s no plans among top officials to leave the imagery in the open for students to view, according to several Bay Area news reports.

Board members appear to agree with a working group’s determination that the mural “traumatizes students and community members.” The “Life of Washington” mural, which consists of 13 panels, was painted in 1936. One of the images involves Washington gesturing toward a group of explorers who are walking by the body of a presumably deceased Native American. Another depicts Washington next to several slaves performing various types of manual labor.

At a June 18 special meeting to consider the controversial paintings, “not one school board member advocated to keep the mural,” reports SF Weekly.

“Instead, Commissioners Gabriela Lopez, Alison Collins, Stevon Cook, and Mark Sanchez commented on how emotionally draining it was to hear — and have other rehash for them — the pain they know firsthand comes from violent, demeaning imagery like this.”

The three options before the board are to obscure the mural with curtains, create acoustic panels to cover it up, or paint over it; each option would cost anywhere from $300,000 to $800,000 to complete, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe told the Chronicle the mural is “huge and complicated,” and that even though it consists of only a couple of controversial images the board’s decision will impact the entire fresco.

About 100 people packed the recent school board meeting to weigh in on the issue, many of whom spoke against covering the mural up.

“We should be teaching about the mural and what it means. I’m half native American. I have no problem with the mural. It depicts what happened,” said one mural proponent, reports FOX KTVU 2.

Writing in National Review, James Sutton reports the mural was never really a bother at the high school.

“The mural (which lies about 20 blocks from my house) wasn’t even particularly opposed by the student body. According to teachers who attended the public hearings over the mural, the majority of students were against its removal or just apathetic. But a small group of outside busybodies joined with a few students to ensure that it would be removed from the public’s sight. Once the words ‘racist’ or ‘white supremacist’ are attached to something, no matter how inaccurate, liberals will not risk their reputation by defending it,” Sutton wrote.

MORE: High school may erase mural of George Washington: ‘traumatizes students’

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.