Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Student Union Klan Mural Removed

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Student Union Klan Mural Removed

Article excerpt


Some students at Indiana University are pressing school officials to remove a mural that has been hanging in a classroom since 1941, saying the image of Ku Klux Klan members and a burning cross creates a hostile learning environment.

The 12-foot-square painting by the late artist Thomas Hart Benton, one of 26 murals commissioned by the General Assembly in 1932 to depict Indiana's history, has become a rallying cry for the university's Black Student Union.

Members say the painting hanging in Woodburn Hall symbolizes the problems on campus for minorities, while others say removing it would be costly and could damage the mural.

"Students understand that art is controversial," said Marshawn Wolley, Black Student Union president, earlier this month. "But in a classroom where I'm trying to learn about psychology or political science, I don't need to be confronted with images of the Ku Klux Klan to be enlightened."

Chancellor Sharon Brehm promised about 60 students at a town hall meeting earlier this month that she would decide the painting's fate by the end of the month.

"We're very committed to diversity. We want all of our students to feel comfortable on campus," Brehm says. "Also, we want to be a campus known for freedom of artistic and intellectual expression."

The Black Student Union, which has complained of too few minority students and faculty members, verbal harassment and a lack of events and funds for Blacks on campus, decided to tackle the issue after several students complained. …

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