SF school board rescinds vote to cover up Washington mural

Jun 23, 2022, 9:15 AM | Updated: 9:53 am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco school board has voted to rescind a previous decision to cover up a George Washington campus mural from the 1930s that critics say is racist and degrading in its depiction of Black and Native American people.

The board’s 4-3 vote Wednesday followed a court’s ruling in a lawsuit that the school board’s original decision violated state law, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Board members did not comment on their votes.

The mural was painted in 1936 at George Washington High School by Victor Arnautoff, one of the foremost muralists in the San Francisco area during the Depression.

In addition to depicting Washington as a soldier, surveyor and statesman, the 13-panel, 1,600-square-foot (149-square-meter) mural contains images of white pioneers standing over the body of a Native American and slaves working at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

New Deal scholars have argued that Arnautoff, a Russian-born communist and social critic, critically depicts unsavory aspects of American history in his work. But some students have contended that the mural’s imagery is offensive and racist.

Supporters say it could play a role in educating people about America’s racist past and covering it up would be censoring art and history.

The school board voted in 2019 to paint over the mural, then decided to cover it up with curtains or panels. The George Washington High School Alumni Association filed a lawsuit, and a judge ruled last year that the board failed to conduct an environmental review and ordered the panel to set aside its decisions.

Wednesday’s vote means the mural must remain on view, but the board could decide in the future to conduct an environmental review and then decide what to do with the artwork, the Chronicle said.

On another matter, the school board voted to return to a merit-based system using test scores and grades for admission to Lowell High School, which is considered one of the highest-performing public high schools in the country.

In October 2020, the board adopted a lottery system for admissions amid controversy including allegations of racism in admissions and lack of diversity. The restored merit system will apply to freshmen entering the school in the fall of 2023.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
6 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
14 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
14 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
21 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
21 days ago
Children play in a dried riverbed in Flassans-sur-Issole, southern France, Wednesday, March 1, 2023...
Associated Press

Italy, France confront 2nd year of western Europe drought

ROME (AP) — Bracing for Italy’s second consecutive year of drought for the first time in decades, Premier Giorgia Meloni huddled with ministers Wednesday to start mapping out an action plan Wednesday, joining France and other nations in western Europe grappling with scant winter rain and snow. Meloni and her ministers decided to appoint an […]
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
SF school board rescinds vote to cover up Washington mural