SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A San Francisco artist created an exhibit at a San Jose high school to mark Black History Month, but was forced to take it down after some parents complained it was too political.
KPIX 5 spoke with the man behind the artwork and how he’s fighting to put it back up.
San Francisco-based artist Mark Harris agreed to put some of his work on display in a local school district for Black History Month. His artwork is political, at times controversial, and as of Tuesday it has been deemed inappropriate by the East Side Union High School District offices.
Harris said, “Apparently there were some parents who came into the administrative offices who were offended by the work.”
The same morning his work went up, the superintendent decided it needed to come down.
He sees taking it down as a form of censorship.
East Side Union High School District Superintendent Chris Funk said, “When community members come into the main hallway they have an expectation that they won’t see anything that could be extremely disagreeable.”
Funk says he hadn’t seen Harris’ work before it was put on display.
An organization within the district called African-American Student Advocates independently chooses an exhibit for Black History Month each year.
Funk says if he saw the art before, he never would have approved it.
“To me, it was us giving permission and endorsing that perspective and that’s not our role, it’s not my role as superintendent to pass judgment on our president,” Funk said.
Harris will have the opportunity to meet with the group that chose him as their exhibitor, and the superintendent, on Thursday to see if they can agree on an appropriate way to display his work.
Harris said, “If you take any group and do not allow them to tell their story, that’s wrong.”