Celebrating Our History – Modern American Style….

You know that line about history and being condemned to repeat it….

It seems sad, but oddly fitting that as the “holiday” known as Martin Luther King Day comes to an end, a press release arrives with the news that a group of prominent U.S. labor, academic and arts figures have joined together to write a letter of protest concerning the censorship of an important labor mural by the Museum of the City of New York.

The commissioned artwork was created by Connecticut State University professor, artist and activist Mike Alewtz.

The press release announces that, “a group of 35 leading labor officials, artists, authors and academics released an Open Letter sent to the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) and the Puffin Foundation.  The letter protests the refusal of the museum to install a work of art commissioned for the recently created Puffin Gallery in the MCNY by muralist Mike Alewitz.

The press release states,

“As individuals deeply concerned about both the history and current status of the labor movement, we are writing to oppose the suppression and censorship of a major new labor mural, The City at the Crossroads of History.”

And it goes on to explain,

“We believe that events like the strikes of maritime workers, the Stonewall rebellion, the fight for the 8-hour day, rent strikes, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Black nationalist movement and the rest of our history deserves to be seen by the very people who build and provide the resources to maintain cultural institutions like our foundations and museums.

We believe that Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Sanger and a host of other individuals who went to jail or gave their lives for our movement should not be hidden from view.

To deny our legacy, in a gallery that purportedly represents the tradition of social activism, is an insulting slap in the face to activists, artists, unionists and all those whose work contributes to the prosperity of the city.”

You can see the mural by following the link below —- it is spectacular to say the least!

For background about the issue, the announcement adds,

“The mural, composed of four panels, was created by Mike Alewitz over the course of several years. Alewitz is a well-known artist working in the US and internationally.  He is an Associate Professor of Art at Central CT State University, where he directs the mural painting program.

Alewitz’s mural was unanimously praised and accepted by the Puffin Foundations’ officers and the committee of leading historians and cultural figures that oversaw the construction and installation of the Puffin Gallery.  However, MCNY Director Susan Henshaw Jones has refused to install the mural.  Attempts by the National Coalition Against Censorship and others to discuss the issue have not been acknowledged.”

Finally, the media announcement goes on to note that the letter of protest, “comes close to the anniversary of another famed case of New York censorship – February 9 marks the anniversary of the 1934 destruction of Man at the Crossroads, a mural by Diego Rivera that was famously destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller.”

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The full letter, including the list of signers can be found at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15oBMfjsJgQ9YKnzG56h6O1M4jmsZ9z8sRGa_Nnc1Y_0/pub 

To see the mural – click on the following – A PowerPoint tour of the mural: THE CITY AT THE CROSSROADS OF HISTORY can be accessed via- https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1tIw5DK-Fit900un-WTDPoIajF9wfjp39XJIY7cMHZ5s/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000

And for more about Connecticut based muralist Mike Alewitz, go to: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FlimRnwePDxeDyRtvGv14acZEX2AIVF2WGCQI4MdNLQ/pub