Painting murals gives students empowering role in protest movement

I'm reading "Painting murals gives students empowering role in protest movement" (Wisconsin State Journal):


For Madison-area youths such as Nelson Lashley, who just turned 10, participating in the Black Lives Matter protest movement by painting murals on boards covering Downtown businesses was empowering.
“I’ve been feeling good that I am in the protest,” said Nelson, who will be a fifth-grader at Lowell Elementary School. “It’s kind of beautiful how you can show what you’re doing through a peaceful form like art.”

The murals were painted on plywood put up after windows were broken during protests following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Many still stand.
Nelson painted with his father, Yorel Lashley, who said the opportunity aligned with the messages he tries to instill through his Drum Power company, which teaches drumming but also strives to develop the whole person.
As a musician, Lashley liked the idea of trying something in the visual arts. The project also was personal.
 

Ask the schoolchildren to paint the murals "Black Life Matters" for downtown Madison.

 

     As murals were being painted at the end of the school year, SJ Hemmerich, art teacher at Randall Elementary School, created a slide presentation of them. Hemmerich then presented it to students and as a last assignment asked , “If you could design your own mural for (Black Lives Matter), what would it be?” Then Hemmerich got the idea of why not do it for real.

    Hemmerich, like other teachers, reached out to “Black and brown students” to get involved. Hemmerich got permission to work on one large mural and five panels located near each other. ... Hemmerich also sent an email out to art teachers in the Madison School District to recruit more help beyond Randall and wound up with more than 135 students and some staff members.

    “I am really passionate about social justice work,” Hemmerich said. “I thought it would be a really good way to get students involved.”...

    Monique Karlen, art teacher at La Follette High School, said she started by recruiting some of her students and then got other help from students from Middleton and East high schools...

The only mention of parents in the article is about one student who said that her parents worry about her participation in the protests, so the mural-painting is a good, safe alternative. But I don't think teachers should be recruiting children to engage in political activism — even if it's artistic — without first involving the parents and getting their consent. I don't think adults should put any sort of pressure on children to take a political position and to do political work — even if it's artwork. Teachers should not be exploiting their access to children for any political purpose. They are given access to our children for the purpose of education, and it is a solemn trust that should never be violated. 

 

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