Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Do the Right Thing?

Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing famously used a recurring image system juxtaposing Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

At Lawrence High School a mural painted by student Thuan Tran was recently painted over by janitors.

Here is the mural:

The Boston Globe reports:

They were under orders from the school's superintendent, Wilfredo T. Laboy, who said yesterday that the mural looked like "ghetto art."

Laboy said yesterday that he was trying to protect taxpayers' investment in the $110 million 4-month-old school and said the new principal of the school's Humanities and Leadership Development Academy had made a mistake in granting Tran permission to paint the mural.

"There was a fundamental breakdown in communication," he said. "The adults didn't communicate."

He added that he had a "fundamental problem" with the mural depicting Malcolm X, "because he promoted violence."

"If that went up there, what kind of uproar would there have been?" he said. "In my humble opinion, it looked like urban art, ghetto art . . . I did what I had to do."

Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe.


Christopher King said...

This is heinous activity and ignorant to the core:

Fact: Contrary to Superintendent Laboy's comment, Malcolm X did not advocate violence even before he went to Mecca. What he said was

"We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us."

This means that he would advocate violence only when violence was given, which is a lawful reaction.

Fact: After he went to Mecca, he said this:

"Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all other prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors."

But to Laboy it's "ghetto art."

And I welcome the Superintendent to meet me at Wally's for a beer and some cool Jazz music, often performed by the country's top students from Berklee, where my buddy Trent Berry teaches from time to time. And where Martin Luther King dined and Malcom X worked.

Mr. Tran: Do not compromise anything. Do your art and stand strong and shoot me an email at

skybar said...

*gasp* urban art! and laboy thinks that lawrence is... what? village? farmland? college town?

Christopher King said...

Dig it, and not just "urban" but "GHETTO...."

Is that ghettos in the same sense that Lichtensteins are ghetto in yuppie urban gentrified ghettos?


Jaly Can said...

If you look closely at our new urban art collection you'll see elements of design made popular by street art.