SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Law School says it plans to paint over a mural that was originally intended to honor African Americans and abolitionists involved in the Underground Railroad after some school community members found the depictions of African Americans offensive.
The Valley News reports that school president Dean Thomas McHenry said in an email this week that students and alumni have raised concerns about the mural.
“… the depictions of the African-Americans on the mural are offensive to many in our community and, upon reflection and consultation, we have determined that the mural is not consistent with our School’s commitment to fairness, inclusion, diversity, and social justice,” McHenry said in the email. “Accordingly, we have decided to paint over the mural.”
The mural was painted by then-Vermont-based artist Sam Kerson in 1993. Two students told the newspaper that the depictions of Black people “are completely inaccurate.”
Kerson said he had not been told of McHenry’s decision, and likened it to the “thuggery” of the destruction of a statue of Douglass last week in Rochester, N.Y.
“This is a monument to abolition in Vermont and a description of the people who struggled against slavery, and it is important to our culture,” he said of the mural. “To paint it over is outlandish — it’s like burning books.
“It’s so inflammatory, I can’t believe it’s actually happening.”