Photo Credit: Jerald Braddock
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has written to the Town Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, New York, regarding its recent call to remove the depiction of Minister Louis Farrakhan, and potentially other controversial figures, from a new town-commissioned mural overseen by the artist known as Kindo Art.
The mural was initially commissioned to allow Kindo Art due artistic license in representing Black History, including the Civil Rights Movement, in the United States. Kindo Art followed the original, good faith requests by the Town mural committees to avoid depictions of violence, sexuality, and hate speech, and the mural went through two years of planning and cooperative review.
Prior to calls to censor the mural, it had undergone multiple reviews —including the approval of an early and mutually understood rough sketch, and the approval of the subsequent fully-painted mural, the latter of which included the depiction of Minister Farrakhan. The mural has been true to the approved guidelines, and illustrates over twenty figures who have contributed to Black culture and political life.
It is concerning to us that the Town Supervisor’s demands appear to be based on subjective interpretations and individual complaints. An artist’s freedom of expression is incompatible with a government that forces an artist to modify their message to satisfy individual complaints.
We urge the Town of Greenburgh to help contextualize the artwork, and make clear the intentions of the artists and collaborators, rather than censor controversial material. Furthermore we urge the Town of Greenburgh to enact a review policy for public art which will provide criteria for responding to complaints in a way that is consistent with free expression.
Please read our full letter to the Town Supervisor below.