Monday, May 16, 2016

What should we do with the mural in the Dyer Courthouse?

MDC taking over the Dyer Courthouse was received with universal praise (background post).  The one issue that has generated lots of heated debate is the mural in the central courtroom.  There were some comments on the post, but there were lots of emails, calls and discussion about what we should do with the mural (including from federal judges with different viewpoints). 



There seem to be three camps, including in the poll below:


What should be done with the mural?

The mural is racist. It contains demeaning images of minorities and has no place in today's courtrooms. It should be painted over. Imagine if you were a black man being sentenced in that courtroom how you would feel.
The mural is historical. It was made in the 30s and it simply depicts the times. Don't take it down. It is a beautiful mural and makes the central courtroom what it is.
The mural has demeaning images and can be viewed as racist, but it is also historical. It is not an image of racism like the Confederate flag, so it should not be painted over.
Quiz Maker

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last week's post was received with universal praise?

Anonymous said...

I will echo my earlier sentiment -- We cannot simply white-wash our racist past. I am just glad nobody is getting sentenced there anymore. Here is the only explanation I found of the mural:
"The mural Law Guides Florida Progress completed by artist Denman Fink in 1941 is located above the judge’s bench and is flanked by two pairs of Ionic marble pilasters. The mural depicts the positive impact of justice guiding Florida’s economic development. Fink included a likeness of himself as a draftsman and a likeness of architect Phineas E. Paist, with whom he worked in Coral Gables, as a chemist"
It should also be noted that Denman Fink helped George Merrick design Coral Gables.

David Markus said...

10:07, haha. I fixed it.

Anonymous said...

I would choose another option. I would not paint over the mural but I would have it draped. I also would construct a separate exhibit that discusses the explicit and implicit racism of the mural.

JHop said...

Keep the mural. It's history -- not only of Florida itself but of an era in our country's progress. Not only that, the artist did a fine job.

Bob Becerra said...

I would keep the mural. It is historical, and if that mural can only be seen as racist, then there are many historical monuments in Washington and elsewhere that would need to go too.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely agree that the mural depicts a division of class and occupation along racial lines, but I am not sure that it is "racist" in the pejorative sense.

Paul Petruzzi said...

Notwithstanding the demeaning and racist portions of the mural, it should be saved. History is history, and without a clear understanding of what our country was like in the past, we lose sight of the progress we have made.

Anonymous said...

Why is no one talking about the "colored only" water fountains at the county courthouse down the street?

Anonymous said...

But how is it racist?

Anonymous said...

I'll take the mural, and admire its beauty and tragedy in my home.

Anonymous said...

Maybe DOM should set up a debate on this issue.

Anonymous said...

The mural may have historical value and then should be in a musuem. However as an attorney "of color" I found appearing in front of that mural in that courtroom demeaning. The mural depicts my predecessors as enslaved beasts of burden. We are mere totters and carriers of stuff. There is nothing that would indicate to me as the attorney or to a client of color this might be a place where justice and fairness prevails.