Professor Cherny Discusses Controversial Mural at SF High School

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- His 1,600-foot mural in Washington High depicts real and fictional scenes from 18th century life baked into the walls of the school — including the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Native people. Arnautoff, a Russian emigree who fled the Bolsheviks before turning to communism himself, opposed racism and did not want to whitewash those elements of history, according to his biographer, Robert Cherny, a professor emeritus at San Francisco State University. Funded by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, “the murals present a counter narrative to the high school history texts of the time,” which typically offered a simplified, Eurocentric version of history, Cherny wrote.