Actually, “Amistad Murals” is shorthand for the set of six panels painted by renowned muralist Hale Woodruff to commemorate the centennial of Talladega College in 1939. Only three of the panels depict scenes of the Amistad slave revolt; the other three show the artist’s rendition of the Underground Railroad, TC’s first registration day at Swayne Hall and the construction of the Savery Library, which has housed the murals until now.
The High Museum will remove the murals from the library and transport them to Atlanta, where restoration experts will painstakingly clean them and make any necessary repairs.
Afterward, the murals will be on display at the High for four months. Then, they will embark on a two-year tour around the country.
Where they finally will come to rest is still a question. They will require a climate-controlled environment that doesn’t exist at Talladega College — yet.
Hawkins envisions a state-of-the-art museum at TC as the permanent home of the murals. He knows it’s a big undertaking that will require enormous fundraising, and it’s likely to take all of the three years he has to work on it. But he also knows the future of the $40 million murals is at stake.
Talladega College is a private institution and the money should come from private sources. But the state, the city and the county all stand to benefit from having the famous and newly restored murals here in a facility appropriate to display them. Every level of government should offer whatever fundraising assistance they have available to make sure the museum is built.