George Washington was a racist

The best way

to deal with inaccurate depictions of history

to deal with defamation

to deal with racist statements

to deal with degrading images

is to bury these mistakes.

Protect the young people from the past mistakes.

That's more or less what Mark Sanchez tells us when he advocates "a fresh start."

Let's have a debate

1. There are racist and degrading images in a mural about George Washington.

2. Therefore, paint over the mural.

Why? Students who must walk past the mural during the school day don’t have a choice about seeing the harmful images. “Painting it over represents not only a symbolic fresh start, but a real fresh start,” Mark Sanchez said. Mark Sanchez.

Which side do you choose?

Paint over the mural? or paint more murals and ask students at G.W. High to set up websites for visitors to see and re-evaluate the past errors?

The other side

1. There are racist and degrading images in a mural about George Washington.

2. Therefore, highlight the degrading parts and give students the responsibility to set up websites and give more mural space to depict why these images are degrading and racist.

Richard Walker, a professor emeritus of geography at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the history project, Living New Deal, said the Washington mural is meant to show the “uncomfortable facts” about America’s first president. For that, it was among many New Deal works of art considered radical when created.

“We on the left ought to welcome the honest portrayal,” Walker said, adding that destroying a piece of art “is the worst way we can deal with historic malfeasance, historic evils.” AP Article

Examples of projects that students created to re-define history

The Man who Saved the World

Remove Jackson from the $20 bill (a project by middle school students in Florida, 1991, coordinated by Dennis Yuzenas, Teacher of the year in 1990) How about Harriet Tubman?

Examples of projects by students at High Tech High

8th Graders examine history through a person

JROTC controversy

In 2006, the Board of Education voted to eliminate its Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corp program as an anti-war statement. Commissioners Sanchez, Mar, Kelly, and Lipson voted to eliminate the program, with Commissioners Jill Wynns and Norman Yee voting for keeping the 120-year-old program. Commissioner Eddie Chin was absent.[8]"Opponents said the armed forces should have no place in public schools, and the military's discriminatory stance on gays makes the presence of JROTC unacceptable."[8] One supporter of the program argued that the program is the only place the kids feel safe.[8] AsianWeek magazine criticized the schoolboard for closing down the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps in San Francisco high schools: "Supporters of JROTC acknowledge problems with the U.S. military and gays, but say Mar and (Norman) Yee are discounting the tremendous benefit JROTC has provided to minorities and low-income students."[9]

In December 2007, during Sanchez' presidency, the Board voted 5-2 to postpone the elimination of JROTC because a replacement program had not been created. Sánchez and Mar were the only commissioners to vote for immediate elimination.[10] In June, 2008 the board discontinued the awarding of physical education credit due to the threat of a lawsuit.

In 2008, San Francisco voters overruled the Board of Education and passed Proposition V, which urged the San Francisco Board of Education to reverse its elimination of the JROTC program. The proposition passed 55 to 45 percent. LINK TO WIKIPEDIA

A project for students at G. Washington H.S.

How about painting a revised mural nearby?

How about putting the comments of Mark Sanchez and Richard Walker on nearby walls and asking viewers to “find the racist and degrading images”?

How about asking students at Geoerge Washington High School to create and maintain a website to summarize “why this mural should be looked at carefully and with a critical eye”?

Students at High Tech High and other California high schools have tackled these subjects, highlighting past mistakes in reporting of historic events.

Could future students learn by looking at the degrading and racist images? Sure. Teachers couls ask students to explain: “Here’s why these images are degrading....”

Here is the poster for this project

The full G. W. mural with a list of racist and degrading images

Because the work “traumatizes students and community members,” the group concluded that “the impact of this mural is greater than its intent ever was.” They are campaigning for its removal.

The idea that impact matters more than intention has informed debates about everything from microaggressions to cultural appropriation.


What happens, though, when we examine the mural in the context of the life and times of the artist?

Painter Victor Arnautoff was born in 1896 in a small village in present-day Ukraine. He emigrated to San Francisco in 1925, where he joined a leftist art collective. During the Great Depression he was a supporter of workers’ strikes and formally joined the Communist Party in 1937. He was even hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956 for drawing a “Communist Conspiracy” cartoon that caricatured then-Vice President Nixon.

In “The Life of Washington,” Arnautoff decided to place Native Americans, African Americans and working-class revolutionaries front and center in the four largest panels, relegating Washington to the margins. See the full article

“What if we had this mural in our school? Would we paint over the mural? Or would we circle the mistakes and add warning labels? Would we have our students create websites dedicated to explaining WHY the mural has flaws and mistakes and racism and degrading elements?”

Go to

The slaves toiling in the Mount Vernon fields highlight a central paradox of America’s history: The nation was founded by men who championed liberty, freedom and equality, and yet owned slaves.

Then there’s the striking image of the fallen Native American. The mural’s detractors say that it dismisses the humanity of indigenous peoples. But why must it necessarily be read as dehumanizing to Native Americans? Could it not instead be seen as throwing into sharp relief the inhumanity of the founding fathers?

According to Arnautoff’s biographer, Robert W. Cherny, the image challenged the fallacy that “westward expansion had been into largely vacant territory waiting for white pioneers to develop its full potential.”

Teachers of social studies are used to controversy. Dennis Yuzenas, a teacher in Florida, led his students to examine the $20 bill ... and their project ("Remove Andrew Jckson form the Twenty!") wound up on CNN.