School mural showed way to heal divisions


Terri Griffin

Sunday, September 10, 2017

So let me get this right: at the Camden County High School, the principal has removed a piece of artwork depicting Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, and Jefferson Davis, president of the seceded Southern states, standing together in an artwork created by students from the northern state of Pennsylvania and students from the southern state of North Carolina in order to be proactive on the chance that there might be controversy or complaint from someone that has yet to materialize.

Am I the only person who sees the absurdity of this?

Knowing only what I read in the paper, it appears to me that this artwork is exactly what we need more of in this country: An image of two leaders of a divided country together, created by students simultaneously from two school districts representative of the north and south, creating and sharing pieces from each work and bringing the artwork together to symbolize a historical time that, like it or not, happened.

More importantly, the artwork at Camden High School was representative of what has to happen if a country wishes to heal itself and move forward after the heinous breach that took place during the Civil War.

I implore the school to put the artwork back up, because we need to be reminded, whether we are talking about our daily relationships, our economic or racial divides or our religious dissents, in our country or in the world as a whole, we must figure out how to come back together in a civilized manner, have a dialogue and work together if we are to heal those wounds that divide us.

Leadership is about setting aside the fears of controversy for the integrity and protection of the most basic free speech. We don't have to be proud of our history. But to try to hide it away, we risk repeating that which by its nature and ours we often are prone.

The artwork at Camden High School was us at a prouder moment. I can't think of a finer teaching opportunity to display our better selves and the positive capabilities of our youth who are our future. So bring it back and don't be afraid to have a conversation and invite parents and students, teachers and administrators to solve today's problems rather than hide them.

Terri Griffin
Elizabeth City