Murals of slaves harvesting sugar cane on a Georgia plantation and picking and ginning cotton are coming off the walls of a state building by order of a new agriculture commissioner.
The murals are part of a collection of eight works painted by George Beattie in 1956 depicting an idealized version of Georgia farming, from the corn grown by prehistoric American Indians to a 20th-century veterinary lab. In the Deep South, the history in between includes the use of slave labor.
“I don’t like those pictures,” said Republican Gary Black, the newly elected agriculture commissioner. “There are a lot of other people who don’t like them.”
Slavery was indisputably part of 19th-century farming in Georgia. By 1840, more than 280,000 slaves were living in the state, many as field hands. Just before the Civil War, slaves made up about 40 percent of the state’s population.
Beattie’s murals tell part of the story. In one painting, two well-dressed white gentlemen in top hats and dress coats leisurely inspect processed cotton. They’re framed on either side by black slaves doing the backbreaking work of cotton farming.
“I think we can depict a better picture of agriculture,” Mr. Black said.
what we are seeing is a intensified attempt to literally whitewash history in its “official” form. and me being a history student this raises increasingly fundamental questions of the point of my chosen profession. and me being black queer and woman this chills me to the bone.
Seriously, this is scary revionism. The attacks on ethnic studies in Arizona are another sign of this growing trend of erasing the history of racism in this country. And to state the obvious, it’s not an academic argument about interpretation, it’s about political power being used to facilitate the oppression of POC today.
If I were ever to find someone so special, I’d want to do that scene when they’re in the boat and Noah’s rowing around while doves and geese or whatever are all around them. And the other one towards the beginning when they’re laying in the middle of the street.