A San Francisco school district may remove an 83-year-old mural of President George Washington from, ironically, George Washington High School because it “traumatizes students and community members.”
The work of artist Victor Arnautoff, a communist, may no longer be progressive enough for “Fog City.” His 13 panels for the high school, created in 1936, have been deemed problematic by the San Francisco Unified School District.
Officials say some of the artist’s historical depictions are offensive to Native Americans and blacks.
Laura Dudnick, a spokeswoman for the district, told educational watchdog the College Fix via email Thursday that Mr. Arnautoff’s work was debated by a “‘Reflection and Action Working Group’ that was comprised of members of the local Native American community, students, school representatives, district representatives, local artists, and historians.”
Four public meetings were held on the matter between December 2018 and February 2019.
The group claims the mural “glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc.,” the Richmond District Blog recently reported.
“At its conclusion, the group voted and the majority recommended that the ‘Life of Washington’ mural be archived and removed because the mural does not represent SFUSD values,” Ms. Dudnick continued. “The superintendent and staff are now reviewing the recommendation and considering the best course of action. At this time there hasn’t yet been any recommendation put forth before the SF Board of Education on this matter.”
Historian Fergus M. Bordewich told the College Fix that SFUSD has fallen victim to “a deeply wrongheaded habit to project today’s norms, values, ideals backwards in time to find our ancestors inevitably falling short.”