A large courthouse mural in Baker County, Florida, depicting Ku Klux Klan imagery is the subject of a new petition, and the two sides are in a heated debate as to whether the mural should stay put.
While critics who have launched a petition on Change.org write that the mural shows a racially biased look at history, supporters argue that it’s “not a racist thing.”
According to the petition: “This mural is not historic—it was only painted in 2001 and it only stands to fuel an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ story of whites versus non-whites in Baker County. It’s time to remove it. ”
There was a “rally” this past Saturday with a handful of people in support of the mural. Pictures show the group standing among several objects draped with Confederate flags.
The mural also shows a range of imagery from woolly mammoths to early Timucuan and Seminole people, as well as the Baker County Centennial of 1961. It is aimed at providing an historical illustration of the area, according to a report in the Daily News.
By this morning (Tuesday, July 21), the petition had received over 1,200 signatures.
Gene Barber was the artist; he reportedly spent more than 50 years researching the county’s history as part of the mural’s creation. After it was unveiled, he claimed that his home was egged and that his yard was trashed three times, the Daily News reports.
At the time, visitors called him a racist in comments on a guestbook accompanying the painting.
Before his death in 2005, he wrote a post on the Baker County Historical Society‘s website: “I greatly desire that we Americans will eventually learn that all our heritages and cultures are worthy of preservation and are necessary to our country’s strength and uniqueness. We must cease using our perspective and modern day standards to judge and revise history. We must dissuade anyone from furthering the division of the races for his/her own political and personality aggrandizement. We must remember that the future of our nation depends on rationality as well as emotion. Last, but not least…lighten up, America. ”
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