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Black Connecticut Residents Say City Hall Mural is ‘Racist,’ Demand Removal of Painting

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BY SHAUNDRA SELVAGGO | ATLANTA BLACKSTAR

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Community members gathered in Norwalk City Hall in Connecticut Thursday to decry its use of a “racist” mural. Many said the artwork creates an unwelcoming and uncomfortable environment for African-Americans residents of the city.

“I want to feel welcome in my home,” Tristan Fields said. “When I walk into my house there’s pictures of my kids, my wife, I have a couple of degrees on the wall, things that I am proud of, moments that I am proud of.”

“Steamboat Days on the Mississippi,” a Justin Gruelle painting commissioned in 1937, features enslaved Blacks laboring and dancing alongside well-dressed whites. It was inspired by a scene in Mark Twain’s 1883 novel, “Life on the Mississippi.”

Steamboat Days on the Mississippi

“It’s not something that makes me feel welcome,” Fields continued, “and I want to call Norwalk my home. So please take this down so that I feel welcome here, so that this can feel like home and I feel like I have a place to stay and I welcome to raise my family.”

Norwalk added the mural to City Hall in the 1980s during an initiative to restore and showcase projects from local artists for the Works Progress Administration.


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