People view the controversial mural, the "Life of Washington."
Over 100 people packed the lobby of a San Francisco public high school to view a controversial mural criticized as racist and degrading for its depiction of black and Native American people.
Officials allowed visitors to see the "Life of Washington" mural for two hours on Thursday after the San Francisco School Board voted in June to paint over the 83-year-old fresco.
The public viewing opportunity came in response to multiple requests over the past several months, according to Laura Dudnick, spokesperson for the San Francisco Unified School District.
Most of those at the viewing were retirees, with a handful of kids on summer vacation with their relatives.
The vast majority of visitors were steadfastly against destroying the mural.
Roberta McLaughlin, 78, collected signatures on a poster on which she wrote, "Educate Do Not Eradicate" and said she would present it to the school board in an effort to have the members consider their vote.
The mural was painted by Victor Arnautoff, one of the foremost muralists in the San Francisco area during the Depression.
New Deal scholars have argued that Arnautoff, a Russian-born communist and social critic, critically depicts unsavory aspects of American history in his work.
Joanne Chow Winship, a former director of San Francisco's Arts Commission, wiped tears from her eyes as she described how a spontaneous conversation with Anderson that afternoon made her "think twice" about her support of the mural.
"I'm torn. I come from wanting to defend and protect the artist and artist's work, but I understand and want people to recognize the feeling in the history for them," Winship said, explaining that she approached the mural with her head and she knew Anderson approached it with her heart.
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