Vermont Law School in Royalton can conceal a public mural that depicts slavery in a way some deem cartoonish and offensive, a U.S. District Court has ruled.
In a decision handed down earlier this month, Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford rejected an argument by artist Samuel Kerson that covering the mural would violate his rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.
The 28-year-old mural titled “The Underground Railroad and the Fugitive Slave” appears on an outside wall of the law school’s Jonathan B. Chase Community Center. It was intended to juxtapose the evil of slavery against the work of abolitionists, but students have complained the images of enslaved Black people were “cartoonish, almost animalistic,” according to Artnet.com.
Justin Barnard, the law school counsel, wrote in an email to Artnet, “We are very pleased … It became clear over recent years that the mural, which many feel depicts Black bodies in a caricatured, stereotyped manner, was inconsistent” with the school’s mission.