Officials hold public meeting on controversial mural

Norwalk officials held a public meeting Thursday evening about a controversial mural on the second floor of City Hall. The mural depicts a scene from

The mural depicts a scene from a Mark Twain novel in which young African-Americans appear to be shown as slaves carrying bags for well-dressed white passengers of a Mississippi River steamboat.

The mural depicts a scene from a Mark Twain novel in which young African-Americans appear to be shown as slaves carrying bags for well-dressed white passengers of a Mississippi River steamboat. (4/28/16)

NORWALK - Norwalk officials held a public meeting Thursday evening about a controversial mural on the second floor of City Hall.

The mural depicts a scene from a Mark Twain novel in which young African-Americans appear to be shown as slaves carrying bags for well-dressed white passengers of a Mississippi River steamboat. It's called "Steamboat Days on the Mississippi."

The Norwalk Human Relations Commission says the painting was created by a local artist in the 1930s and has been hanging in City Hall since the 1980s.

Some people have complained the image doesn't belong in the halls of a building that represents a local democracy. Other residents, like Jeffrey Price, of the Norwalk Arts Commission, say the art is important to raise awareness about the history of racism in the United States.

"I think history shows that when governments try to censor artwork and only show the things that they feel are politically correct and enhance the grandeur of their nation -- then things go badly," Price says.

About 70 residents turned up for the meeting, and many of them called for the painting to come down.

"It's very racist," says Norwalk resident Angela Harris. "We have not gotten reparations. Until we've gotten reparations -- this isn't an art class here."

The Human Rights Commission will meet next week to discuss the issue, but members say they don't expect any decisions to be made then.

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