Council drapes mural containing Confederate soldier; it acted after freshman state Rep. Derrick Jackson said mural misrepresents ‘Tyrone of today’; mayor cites ‘harmony’
A mural depicting the history of Tyrone has stood for nearly 21 years behind the dias in the Town Council chambers. The mural was recently covered by a large curtain after state Rep. Derrick Jackson and others at the Aug. 17 Town Council meeting suggested that the mural does not reflect the Tyrone of today.
Among the many representations on the mural is that of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle with a portion of the Confederate flag behind him.
Above, the Tyrone Town Hall mural is now partially covered with a drape after a complaint was lodged earlier in August with the Town Council. The mural was painted as the backdrop for Tyrone government meetings in 1996. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Mayor Eric Dial after the meeting said the council by consensus decided to act on the request.
“We have taken steps to address this issue out of respect for all of our citizens,” Dial said.
The action, which occurred soon after the meeting, was to position a large curtain in front of the mural. As for the future, Dial said a replacement for the curtain will be explored.
The Aug. 17 council meeting came with four public speakers addressing the mural.
First up, Jackson, an African-American and a Tyrone resident, said the mural behind the dias does not reflect the Tyrone of today, nor does it reflect Tyrone going forward. Jackson was elected to the House of Representatives last year and took office in January 2017.
Citing the positive changes in the town, including the presence of the film industry, Jackson said the presence of the mural would not reflect the Tyrone of today, including for new businesses and citizens. Jackson asked that the town consider an alternative to what could go on the wall.
Jackson said the mural does not show inclusiveness, and asked what might go on the wall.
Commenting on his statements at the meeting, Jackson on Aug. 26 said he received calls and emails pertaining to recent national events, with those contacting him expressing concern over the portion of the mural depicting a Confederate soldier. Jackson noted that he first mentioned the issue when he ran for mayor in 2011, expressing the need to be more inclusive as a demonstration of the town today.
“The mural needs to reflect the Tyrone of today, not the past,” Jackson said, adding that a current reflection is needed with the town’s growing business and film industry firms.
Also in public comments, Fayette County Branch NAACP President Terrence Williamson supported Jackson’s comments.
Tyrone resident Winne Anderson, initially speaking on another issue, also supported Jackson’s request.
Tyrone resident Eric Woods also supported Jackson’s request, asking the council to design a mural that is inclusive of all Tyrone citizens.
Commenting on the issue, Dial late last week said, “Recently, some in this nation have tried to use an issue like this as a political weapon. We need to get beyond that outlook because it’s so damaging to the harmony we enjoy in our community. It is my intention, our intention, to listen fully and respectfully to all the voices in our diverse community, but we cannot allow this to become a purely political fight. Politicizing this kind of issue endangers our harmony, and could divide and distract us from other pressing issues that require us to work together.”
The old Hopewell United Methodist Church was in the building that now houses Town Hall. The church building was sold to the town in July 1994.
The mural behind the dias was painted in 1996 by Pam and Jim Hardin.