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University of Kentucky Set to Remove Controversial Mural

December 2, 2022

The University of Kentucky announced on Nov. 22 that a controversial mural is to be removed and relocated after years of being a topic of debate at the institution, according to the Courier Journal.

The mural was painted by Ann Rice O’Hanlon in 1934 and is located in the university’s Memorial Hall. The painting includes versions of history depicting Black people working in tobacco fields, Black musicians performing for a group of white people and a Native American holding a tomahawk.

Eli Capilouto, president of the university, announced in 2015 that the university would cover the mural; he later said in 2016 that it would be uncovered because the mural “told a story through a talented artist’s eyes within the context of her time.”

The university attempted to cover the mural again in 2020 after the Black Lives Matter movement, when discussions over racist statues and murals circulated. It faced a lawsuit from Kentucky author Wendell Berry stating the mural is owned by the public and promotes education, causing it to be unsafe to remove.

A racist altercation between two students at the institution took place earlier this month, in which a white student was caught on camera repeatedly using racist slurs toward a Black student, according to CNN.

The Board of Trustees set aside millions to make university spaces more inclusive for students after the incident.

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Safia Abdulahi

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