Slavery Paintings To Be Removed From Georgia Office

by Liane Membis

A painting of slaves working on a Georgia plantation, picking cotton and harvesting sugar cane, will be removed from the walls of a government state building in Georgia, according to an order issued by the new agriculture commissioner.

The murals are part of a collection of eight works created by George Beattie in 1956 as an idealized depiction of agriculture in Georgia. The collection depicts the movement of food and farming in the Peach state, commemorating the prehistoric beginnings of food grown by Native Americans, and continuing up to the most recent developments in scientific labs. The paintings are troubling because they bring back to mind the imagery of forced slave labor. In the 1800s, before emancipation, more than 280,000 slaves lived and worked in the state of Georgia, making up 40 percent of the state’s population.

“I don’t like those pictures,” Republican Gary Black, the newly elected agriculture commissioner, told Associated Press. “There are a lot of other people who don’t like them.”

The murals in question depict two White men in top hats inspecting and weighing cotton that has been processed and produced by Black slaves. One slave is bent over, picking cotton buds by hands, while two other slaves use the Whitney gin to separate cotton fiber from seeds. There is no imagery of the whipping or beating that may have been used to harm or subjugate the slaves.

According to a department-sponsored article in 1995 before he died, Beattie defended his work, claiming that it is an important installment of Georgia’s cultural past that Georgians should not shy away from.

“As a human being, I am vehemently opposed to slavery, as anyone should be,” Beattie said, “but it was a significant epoch in our history; it would have been inaccurate not to include this period.”

However, Black claims that the images have got to go.

“I think we can depict a better picture of agriculture,” Black said, suggesting a less controversial piece to take the artwork’s place.

  • Pema

    Good call.

  • Niecy Cerise

    Those that do not know their history are doomed to repeat. That painting should have remained hanging so that the idiots in the country remember who built it.

  • Nicole

    I agree! You can not change your history, and slavery is an important part of our American history. Taking the painting way is similar to erasing that part of history.

  • oknow

    they should put it in the museum of natural history or the african-american museum..

  • EmpressDivine

    I agree!!

  • Me27

    This is dumb. Why would they remove this painting? Who cares how troubling the images may be?! It’s a fact that slave labor was used as a part of Georgia’s agricultural history. The picture should remain as is.

  • Isis

    I agree

  • Violet

    How about Slavery was EVIL and WICKED and INHUMANE, Mr. Beattie? I am sure that Satan said this to you when you bust Hell WIDE OPEN!!
    Anyone who’d even think that these paintings are not simply ignorant white washing(pun intended)is as cold and foolish as the painter.

  • lexdiamonz

    @ violet i agree and rape and lychings are a part of our history too yall want that mural in the DMV !!!!!!! Georgia needs to cut the bullshyt put the painting in a museum where it belongs not in a goverment office to show the “darkies” who still running things

    black people stand for something and stop falling for EVERYTHING

  • Zahra Brown

    Guilt? So will references to the Holocaust and Iraqi tragedies also be removed from our culture, or is it just when it’s something to do with black people? Slavery is always an easy target whereas other bloodshed in history get respect. Take the pictures down, but the message still stands.

  • South Loop Social Light

    I went to an interview a few weeks ago and saw paintings very similar to these everywhere in the office. I’m still getting used to life in the South… but the paintings made me feel a bit uncomfortable. They’re just over the top… The South clings onto slavery and the whole Confederacy too much in my opinion… especially a war that was lost.

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