Wilson students add diversity to the walls


Photo courtesy of Avram Walters

Talya Lerich

As you enter the building, a large portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States and the school’s namesake, is mounted on the wall next to the metal detectors. However, he is no longer the only president painted in the halls of Wilson.

A new mural, painted across from the first floor bathrooms, features Barack Obama, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Barack Obama was the 44th and first African-American president of the United States. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were prominent civil rights leaders in the 1960s, who paved the way for Obama’s presidential victories.

“The only other large publicly displayed face in the building is that of Woodrow Wilson, a known racist and bigot, who stares down at our diverse student body as they enter in through the front doors,” art teacher Avram Walters, supervisor of the project carried out by his humanities class, said.

“I think it’s good to have some civil rights activists posted in our school to display their importance,” Chedza Nasim, a student of Walters, added.

The main figures in the painting are displayed in black and white while the background is made up of circular shapes that resemble spirals. These spirals can commonly be found on Sisal Bowls from Rwanda which represent peace, reconciliation, and fresh starts.

Walters gave his students the opportunity to formulate ideas for a public work of art, and they collaboratively decided upon these three figures. “This was a student project,” Walters said. “Each student was responsible for drawing three individual 12×12 inch squares. Then, all the squares were taped together, transferred to the wall, and painted accordingly.” The project was a long process, taking almost all of third advisory. However, Nasim felt that it was well worth it. “It was probably the most rewarding art project I’ve done in a while,” he said.