Petition Closed

Take Down Jim Crow Murals from Jefferson County Courthouse

This petition had 211 supporters


A courthouse should be a place of justice and equality before the law. The entryway to the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Birmingham, Alabama has two 17.5' x 8' murals by Chicago artist John W. Norton that are intended to represent the agrarian Old South and the industrial new South. These murals were painted in 1931-32 in the midst of Jim Crow, and they both romanticize a hierarchy of labor in which black people are positioned at the lowest level. These murals have been described by scholars as white supremacist images and even the Chicago firm, Holabird & Root, that originally designed the courthouse and commissioned the paintings, has stated their support for the removal of the murals.  It is far past time to take these celebratory representations of inequality down from the walls of the courthouse!

Not only are people seeking justice and fair treatment greeted in the courthouse by images that naturalize inequality and racial oppression, courthouse staff are also subjected to these murals on a daily basis. Moreover, the presence of these images in the Jefferson County Courthouse suggest a validation on behalf of state and city government for the ideology of white supremacy that they depict. 

Since these murals are works of art and were painted by a famous muralist, we are not necessarily advocating for their destruction but rather their relocation to a place that encourages critical engagement.  Several of Norton's other murals throughout the country have been removed and relocated for purposes of remodeling, and we believe this is something that is feasible to do.  Most importantly, these images do not belong in the courthouse.

For more, see the following news articles about these efforts:
http://wiat.com/2015/09/24/jefferson-county-courthouse-mural-controversy-reaches-commissioners/

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/09/23/3704683/alabama-courthouse-still-displays-mural-depicting-white-overseers-and-black-slaves/

Listen to President of Metro Birmingham NAACP talk about the first time he saw the murals as a child:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqvaGP5cOtk

This petition is supported by the Metro Birmingham NAACP, President of Metro Birmingham NAACP Hezekiah Jackson IV, Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra L. Brown, President of the Birmingham Urban League William A. Barnes, William Baylor of Citizens 4 Change Bessemer, President of Team 7 Harvey Henley, NAACP Spokesperson on the Mural Removal Mission Reverend Anthony "Alann" Johnson, Mayor Lance McDade of Lipscomb, Pastor Patrick Sellers of Birmingham Ministerial Alliance, Founder of Foot Soldiers International Pastor Gwen C. Webb, Councilman David Vance of Bessemer, the Bessemer City Council, and the Fairfield City Council.



Today: Anne Garland is counting on you

Anne Garland Mahler needs your help with “Jimmie Stephens, President, Jefferson County Commission;, Tony Petelos, Jefferson County Manager;, Ann D. Florie, Jefferson County Personnel Board and Executive Director of Leadership Birmingham: Take Down Racist Murals from Jefferson County Courthouse”. Join Anne Garland and 210 supporters today.