President Capilouto sent a message to our campus on June 5 instructing the facilities team to immediately begin the process of removing the mural in Memorial Hall.
This mural depicts the evolution of our country and state’s history, and with it, lionizes the memory of slavery in America. It’s important we do not forget our history, and it’s even more important we learn from it. An essential part of this country’s founding pillars—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—came at a high cost and have not been equally available to all.
Many in this college, and across campus, voiced concerns about the mural over the years. As President Capilouto stated, the art is a painful reminder to our Black students, faculty, and staff that slavery will remain a part of their lineage forever.
Previous actions to bring context to the mural were only temporarily accepted, and the Black community on campus has endured hurt and exclusion because the content misrepresents their ancestors, romanticizes oppression, and insults human dignity for the Black race.
Instead of a symbol of history, the mural has continued to be an example of the university’s unwillingness to listen to our Black community.
The bold decision to remove the mural is a step closer to creating an inclusive campus. This action allows our community to finally begin meaningful discussion that enables trust and progress to develop a just and safe campus for all.
We recognize the mural’s removal will not fix the ongoing, complex issues of racism at UK and in America. We do hope it will be the start to thoughtful conversations and compassionate decisions that will move our community into a deeper understanding and awareness of the emotions, challenges, and disparities existing in our college and on UK’s campus.
President Capilouto’s actions further illustrate that serious discussions and actions will take place immediately. Leading toward greater inclusivity begins with an open ear and willingness to embrace the diverse perspectives in our community. We are listening. We are learning. And I promise CHS will join the movement to act.
Dean of the UK College of Health Sciences