At the October meeting of the Oregon PNLHA trustees, Mike Sullivan raised concerns about the defacement of the labor history mural in Centralia, WA.
Here are some thoughts on what is being viewed by some as “cultural vandalism” and a “travesty.”
The issue is the cutting of windows into the famous mural depicting what has been called the Centralia Tragedy by some and a Massacre by others. It involved a deadly battle between members of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Wobblies, and local Legionnaires in 1919.
From Mike Alewitz, artistic director of the Labor Art & Mural Project at Central Connecticut State University:
THE RESURRECTION OF WESLEY EVEREST, the artistic result of a mural project involving dozens of activists in the Pacific Northwest, has been literally defaced.
Completed in 1997, the monument to the antiwar unionist Wesley Everest, lynched in 1919, was created as a way to reach out to immigrant workers new to the Centralia area. The painting of the image was preceded by months of public discussion and debate involving local unions, the IWW, the Labor Education Center at Evergreen College and numerous individuals.
Imagine if the same treatment was accorded to Martin Luther King or another beloved figure. This desecration of the mural by the owners of Centralia Square, is an insult to every working person.
From “Tuck” at Bellingham IWW:
Centralia Square Antique Mall responds to DEFACEMENT OF EVEREST MURAL. This August 22 comment appears on the Centralia Square Antique Mall F’book page, following Paul Lenart’s comment:
“In response to all of the concern about the mural, it will be completely restored. The new owners have gone to great trouble and expense to make sure it will remain. Every piece that was removed was preserved and hangs up in the hallway on the 3rd floor. In addition perforated plastic has been made with the exact images that were removed. This renovation should be completed soon. Since the owner of Centralia Square Antique Mall no longer owns the building, we had nothing to do with the renovation process. However we are very pleased with the new owner’s efforts to maintain the mural.” I will be writing them to commend their concern, and urging them to post to Bellingham IWW when the work is done. So, suggest in the meantime we hold off on further bad reviews, and give them a chance to get the renovation completed. Tuck
One Washington PNLHA member who has been following the discussion, advises that future commemorative plaques and murals should be erected either on a union building or a public property.