View Full Version : Indiana University will keep mural depicting a scene with KKK

Saturday, January 18th, 2003, 03:24 AM
Klan mural still stirring emotions. IU is following through on plan to educate students about mural, promote diversity on campus.

By Steve Hinnefeld, Herald-Times Staff Writer

Ten months after Indiana University officials decided not to remove a depiction of a Ku Klux Klan rally from an IU classroom, the mural continues to provoke discussion on campus. Classes and other groups that meet in the large lecture room, Woodburn Hall 100, now view a video on the mural controversy and have a chance to discuss it during the first week of each semester.

Last summer, new students learned about the mural during a freshman diversity orientation program. And plans will be announced soon for a fund to produce multicultural art projects. But the IU Black Student Union, whose protests forced university officials to address the mural issue last winter, hasn't abandoned its concerns.

"The administration made a decision and they proposed a plan to try to correct the situation," said Gerald Mitchell, president of the group. "We're just keeping a watchful eye on how things go." Mitchell, a junior from Michigan City, said it does appear IU officials are serious about improving the campus racial climate. Whether in response to the mural controversy or not, he said, "the university is at least trying."

The 12-foot-square mural is part of a 22-panel work, A Hoosier History, that artist Thomas Hart Benton painted for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The state later donated the work to Indiana University, which mounted it in the lobby of the IU Auditorium, the old university theater and Woodburn Hall.

One of the two Woodburn murals, called Parks, the Circus, the Klan, the Press, shows a Klan rally along with other images. In the foreground are a newspaper writer and pressman who suggest the role of journalists in fighting the Indiana Klan. The Klan was a political power in Indiana in the 1920s, fueled by opposition to Catholics, Jews, blacks and immigrants as well as concerns over drinking and immorality.

While the Benton murals are considered the most important art on the IU campus, black students said it was deeply upsetting to face an image of the Klan, a symbol of racial hatred, in a classroom. Mitchell said the feelings evoked by the image are strong because IU-Bloomington has so few minority students. Only 3.8 percent are black.

Some students wanted the mural removed or covered. Others said that would amount to censoring history. Probably the deciding factor was that officials determined it couldn't be removed without being damaged. IU-Bloomington Chancellor Sharon Brehm decided last March the mural should stay, but with a stepped-up effort to promote diversity and an understanding of the feelings evoked by the mural.

"Not everyone agrees with my decision," Brehm said this week. "However, I do believe most people felt their views were heard and respected. "Thus, on the whole, it seems to me that the Benton mural controversy helped create a constructive dialogue about diversity and that it has moved the campus forward in terms of its commitment to diversity," she said.

Brehm initially planned to give a "state of campus diversity" address at the start of each school year. But she concluded there wasn't enough new information to address the topic in August. She now plans to give the talk March 11 -- in Woodburn 100. And she said she will announce plans for the One for Diversity art fund this month as part of ArtsWeek activities on the campus.

Brehm said IU has made progress in furthering racial and cultural diversity, but not enough. "We need to establish a strong national reputation as a campus that is deeply committed to diversity and its educational benefits," she said. A key part of IU's response to the controversy was to provide diversity training -- featuring a 10-minute video produced by Gino Brancolini of IU Radio and Television Services -- for students who use Woodburn 100.

The video includes background on the mural and interviews with students, with some saying it should come down. It is shown not only to classes that meet in the room, but to students who use it for one-time events, including club meetings, lectures and departmental exams. IU diversity educator Mark Bryson presents most of the programs -- 14 of them this week.

He said the debate over the murals has been good for the campus. And it has shown the value of provocative public art such as Benton's. "The whole point of this kind of art is to create reactions, to get people dialoguing," he said. "It's got people talking again." Bryson said student reaction to the video varies from class to class. Sometimes, he said, students are eager to express their opinions.

But in a late-afternoon physiology lecture class on Wednesday, that wasn't the case. Dozens of students hurried out of the room during a break, with some saying they had seen the video before. When Bryson invited comments on the video, it was after 5 p.m. Perhaps sensing their classmates were eager to leave, none of the students spoke up.

But several black students, cornered after the class, said they still believe the mural doesn't belong in a classroom. "It should be somewhere else," said Darrika Van, a sophomore from Indianapolis. "Put it in a museum." Mary Price, a senior from Indianapolis, said a picture of the Klan sends a message that black students aren't welcome. She said the video was "like propaganda ... It says, 'Some black people like it, so the rest of you black people should like it, too.'

Source: www.hoosiertimes.com/stories/thisday/news.030117_HT_A1_JLR04136.sto (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hoos iertimes.com%2Fstories%2Fthisday%2Fnews. 030117_HT_A1_JLR04136.sto)

Saturday, January 18th, 2003, 04:48 PM
Did the link have a picture of the mural?

Sunday, January 19th, 2003, 05:31 AM
Originally posted by skinpride
Did the link have a picture of the mural?

No, it did not. It was just a longer, more descriptive story.

I am very suprised that the link became outdated so fast.

Sunday, January 19th, 2003, 05:35 AM
I am sure the paper felt the backlash from the minority students.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2003, 04:52 AM
Do you have a picture of the mural? and if so post it or send it...

Relevant Range
Wednesday, January 29th, 2003, 11:19 PM
Originally posted by AryanPride
Do you have a picture of the mural? and if so post it or send it...

x_zzz The whole thing is kind of silly, even to a non-racist like me.

The klansman is barely noticeable. He has his back turned and is kind of in the background. They also suggest that the mural was bought by the state during a Democratic administration to smear their Republican predecessors.