The University of Notre Dame decided that the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday was to cover up murals depicting the journey of Christopher Columbus.
In an email sent to students, school president John Jenkins explained the decision, saying Columbus’ arrival was a “catastrophe” for Native Americans. (RELATED: What Do Americans Really Think About Columbus Day?)
NEWS: @NotreDame President Reverend John Jenkins said the world had a different view of Columbus back in the 19th century, when the murals were painted. Now he’s chosen to have them covered. https://t.co/UwWgqKu0SI pic.twitter.com/7SvCvJJTaL
— 93 WIBC Indianapolis (@93wibc) January 21, 2019
“In recent years, however, many have come to see the murals as at best blind to the consequences of Columbus’ voyage for the indigenous peoples who inhabited this ‘new’ world and at worst demeaning toward them,” Jenkins said.
The 12 murals, located in the Catholic university’s main building, have been around since the 1880s. They were initially put up to build sympathy for Catholic immigrants during a time period of anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States, something Jenkins alluded to in his statement. (RELATED: Trump Unashamedly Celebrates Columbus Day)
“We wish to preserve artistic works originally intended to celebrate immigrant Catholics who were marginalized at the time in society,” Jenkins said.
The decision comes a little over a year after 300 students signed a petition to have the murals removed.