Every Mural Tells a Story

A mural, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “ A painting executed directly on to a wall or ceiling as part of a scheme of decoration. ” Historically murals not only serve aesthetic purposes but also function as a social tool. Photo mural is one of the modern forms. The photo mural entitled A Vision of Change in the North Hall breezeway on the UCSB campus was established with the effort of the Black Student Union (BSU) and the department of Black Studies in 2012. The mural was installed through difficult negotiations with Chancellor Yang in remembrance of the 1968 black students takeover which significantly shaped the political culture of the campus and led to the creation of the Black Studies department at USCB. This photo mural brings the solidarity showed in the past event back to public attention, emphasizes the mutual respect between races, and implies the power black voice.Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 15.13.32

The Story it Tells–Solidarity

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Students made eight demands when they took over the two-million-dollar computer building, opened the window and stated that it was a nonviolence protest and recounted the unfair treatments due to their skin color. 

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Students of different colors gathered in a crowd and listen to the black students’ voice peacefully, which showed solidarity.

Mutual Respect

The eye contact of the boys suggests a hope of racial equality.
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A white policeman is watching a black student without interference. They showed mutual respect by acting non-violence.

 The Voice of Black Power was Heard

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The black man in the picture is dressed as a typical black activist. The raised fist was coincident with the famous Black Power Salute which gained esteem by the African-American athletes in Olympics two days later.

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One of the refused demand was to have North Hall  renamed after Malcolm X. Because he  was a proponent for expressing the righteous anger, the school firmly turned down the request. North Hall’s meaningless name remains unchanged.

In 2012, BSU strived to make a list of solid demands. Among those, the least substantial request, the North Hall photo mural, was the only one realized. The desire for solidarity is expressed in the pictures; the mural respect at the takeover is shown; the awareness that a lot more things can be done for racial justice is raised. Nonetheless, the existing abuses for colored people are not exposed in the photos. When we look at the photos, we should think beyond the past event and lay our eyes on things happening in the present, and what can be changed in the future. The North Hall mural is a call for us students to take actions for the black rights.