Remove Tobacco Auction Mural in Louisburg, NC Post Office

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The mural is a part of the “New Deal Artwork”. “Tobacco Auction” by Richard Kenah was commissioned by the Federal Treasury Section of Fine Arts and installed in June 1939. This painting depicts white farmers buying and selling tobacco in an auction and shows African American men working without shirts and shoes.  This is just one more unnecessary reminder of the inhumane conditions our African American ancestors were subjected to in an effort to survive economically all while building the wealth of this nation.

As stated in the book, “New Deal Art in North Carolina: The Murals, Sculptures, Reliefs, Paintings, Oils and Frescoes and Their Creators” by Anita Price Davis, “Kenah was aware that the designing of the confederate flag possibly occurred in Louisburg and that this historic event was a possible theme for his painting. Kenah, however, selected another topic for his work, tobacco auction.”

Artists often use their surroundings and experiences for inspiration for their work. This painting was created during the Jim Crow era when African-Americans were separate and not equal.  There were several laws in place at that time to prevent the advancement of African American people. During this time even post offices, like the one in question, were segregated for both employees and customers.  

In 2020, it is time for this mural to be taken down.  The ideals it represents are no longer welcome in our society.