SMYRNA — The Smyrna School District announced Friday that the controversial painting of political activist Angela Davis that spurred Thursday’s student protest would be restored to full view over spring break.
The painting, which was made by several students under the supervision of staff, received backlash for the depiction of Ms. Davis, who has ties to controversial political causes including advocacy for the state of Palestine.
Smyrna School District Superintendent Patrik Williams said the district made the decision Thursday to temporarily suspend the display in consideration of those who had not been included during the creative process but were negatively impacted by its inclusion.
“We all recognize that this painting represents more than simply a student work of art. It represents a gateway to greater and more honest dialogue about social, ethnic and racial equity. The Smyrna School District would not unilaterally make a permanent decision about such a work of art without first meeting to solicit input from those affected by any decision.” Mr. Williams said.
Although no timetable has been set, the Smyrna School District said they will organize a meeting with staff and student representatives from Smyrna High School, as well as members of the community to discuss a student-created mural inclusive of the painting of Ms. Davis and paintings of other mutually agreed-upon figures.
Mr. Williams said once the timetable is set, the painting will be restored to view in time for school to resume on April 25.
“In the interim we ask for patience and grace. Growing and learning from one another can be fraught with challenges, disagreements and, of course, mistakes,” Mr. Williams said.
“From this process often arise great learning, empathy and even accomplishments. We plan to make this experience result in just such an outcome.”
Thursday’s student-led protest at Smyrna High School was peaceful and led to an early dismissal at 12:30 p.m.