Outraged residents converged at the Norwalk City Hall in Connecticut to condemn the city’s usage of a racist mural which is offensive to black members of the community.
Many have criticized the “Steamboat Days on the Mississippi,” a Justin Gruelle painting commissioned in 1937, for displaying enslaved Blacks laboring and dancing alongside whites in fancy dresses.
According to the attendants at the public hearing, the artwork, which was inspired by a scene in Mark Twain’s 1883 novel, “Life on the Mississippi,” carries a subliminal racist message that says “Black people can do nothing but subservient to the white slave masters,” and does not represent a moment in history that anyone should be proud of.
Despite over five years of complaints from residents about the lack of diversity that the painting depicts, city officials have done nothing to remove it.
Instead they disrespect the city’s African-American members and insult their intelligence by suggesting the painting is open to different interpretations, claiming that there is no telling whether the Black men in the painting were actually slaves or free Blacks being paid for dockside labor.
One of the main purposes for which art is necessary is to bridge the gap between people and cultures. But according to Amina Chowdhury, 15, this painting does the exact opposite.
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