Student mural at East High School offering commentary on racism sparks mixed reactions

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DENVER — A student art project at Denver’s East High School contains photos of people wearing blackface.

Some parents are asking that it be taken down, but others say it will spark important conversations.

When the mural first went up at the school some students said they didn’t know what to think.

At the bottom of the mural, there are four stock photos of people in blackface and a message saying “Imitation is not always flattering.”

“At first it did kind of make me feel uncomfortable and unsure, but when I read the words around it it made me feel a little better,” said Jaidyn Fears, an East High senior.

Fears has mixed emotions about the piece of art created by 30 students.

FOX31 was told that portion was created by an African American student.

Senior Michael Filmore said at first it made a lot of students mad.

“Overall I think the art piece was what was needed for our school around the conversation around racism. I think it highlights the racist history that continues to happen to this day,” said Filmore.

Jason McBride, who who works with students at the school said some parents have told him the mural is offensive.

“They don’t like it at all. They feel it should be taken down.They want to support the young lady [but] they feel this conversation should be brought to light in a different way,” McBride said.

Others say it can spark a tough conversation.

“What I’m hoping and excited about is it really generates a conversation around what the student was trying to bring out,” said Jonathan McMillan, who works with youth of color.

For now it stands – sure to spark more debates in the days to come.

A district spokesperson said, the principal has not received requests from parents asking it be taken down.

FOX31 was told the principal will be holding conversations with students in the days to come.

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