One of my own organizing principles is to leaven organizing and protesting the big, national things (such as Black Lives Matter) with local issues inside my everyday spaces. In other words, I find it important to focus on “doing the work at home” — in the places I love and care about — alongside pushing for wider systemic changes. In that spirit, I want to invite folks to a series of townhalls focused on addressing racist imagery on Rutgers campus, and the wider issue of what we can do to make the campus welcoming and accessible to the wider community. 

I think it’s a critically important conversation — one that touches on issues community members have raised to me over the years. There is the issues of racism in public art specifically — something I know Ojii Mada Bidi and others have been highlighting in recent years. But I think that there is space to talk about other issues that I often hear complaints about such as: why are so many Rutgers building “inward-facing”? What are Rutgers students taught about their neighbors? What is the role of the Rutgers police force? 

Here’s an invitation to various townhalls, and the wider call from the University committee (which I’m on). If you can’t make one of these, but would like to submit written testimony, please let me know. I’m on the committee that’s wrestling with these issues and am happy to address. 


Dear community,

The United States is facing a long-overdue global racial reckoning, a movement that is taking multiple forms, one of which has involved challenges to the memorialization of a range of historical events and individuals. In recent months, our nation has begun to re-evaluate, through contemporary and social-justice lenses, statues, monuments and other forms of public art – created to honor specific people or to represent a moment in history – that have been erected throughout the country since the 19th century.

We are now called upon to engage in such a re-evaluation at Rutgers University–Camden. In the early summer we received a communication calling attention to an issue with part of the mosaic frieze on the front of the Johnson Park building (a former Carnegie Library built in the early 20th century) and a petition to remove the statue of Walt Whitman from in front of the Campus Center. There have also been countervailing petitions and communications opposing the obscuring of the frieze and the opposing removal of the Walt Whitman statue.

During the month of October, the Rutgers University–Camden Committee on Public Art and History will be hosting town halls to hear the thoughts and recommendations of the Rutgers–Camden community, and our community external to the campus, on what should be done with the mosaic frieze and the statute of Walt Whitman.  The input gathered at the town halls will provide the committee insight as they develop recommendations on how the campus should respond to the demands of removing the Walt Whitman statue and covering the mosaic on the Johnson Park building.

If you would like to voice your opinion on the mural and mosaic please register below for one of the town halls. Each town hall will be geared towards the constituent groups listed below, so please sign up for the town hall that best represents the group that you belong.

Student Town Halls:

10/15 Faculty and Staff Town Hall:

10/21 Community Town Hall:

10/22 Alumni Town Hall:

If you will not be able to attend one of the town halls but would still like to share your opinion or ask questions please contact

Thank you,

Nyeema C. Watson and Keith Green

Committee on Public Art and History Co-Chairs

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