Controversial UK mural depicting slavery to be removed

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT
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In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto announced in an email sent to students that a controversial mural in Memorial Hall will be removed.

“As much as racism is a systemic stain on our country, so too, are we the inheritors of Dr. King’s admonition that the moral arc of the universe ultimately bends toward justice. That is where I believe we find ourselves as a campus community today. We have not been immune from racial prejudice and hate, but I believe deeply that there is a commitment to doing better tomorrow than we are doing today,” Capilouto wrote.

The mural in question, which features enslaved African Americans as one of its elements, has been the subject of repeated controversies. In 2015, President Capilouto covered the mural after a group of black students told him the piece was demeaning. In 2017, the mural was uncovered, but a new sign was added that aimed to give the mural some historic context.

“Our efforts and solutions with the mural, for many of our students, have been a roadblock to reconciliation, rather than a path toward healing. That’s not a criticism. It is a statement of fact and, I hope, understanding,” writes President Capilouto.

“There is rarely a perfect solution to challenging issues. But it is the right one, I believe, for our campus at this moment and in the years to come.”

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