Arizona Mural Stirs Race Debate

A Quieter Street Corner, but Controversy Continues

With Arizona already in the national spotlight for its controversial immigration law and banning of ethnic studies in public schools, Kevin Kapp, superintendent of Prescott Unified School District, said he believes the atmosphere surrounding those issues played a role in getting widespread attention for this controversy.

"I think the atmosphere in Arizona is very sensitive, and hypersensitive to immigration issues and minority issues ... that fed into it," Kapp said.

School officials have since apologized.

"We decided that the committee overstepped their bounds," Lane said. "We were trying to give our artistic opinion to the artists and it just didn't work well."

Mural Starts a Dialogue About Race

Councilman Blair has been slammed for comments he made on his radio show about the mural being used "to excite some sort of diversity power struggle that doesn't exist in Prescott" and a means to "promote minorities."

Although Blair declined to comment on the issue, he said in a press conference Tuesday that he would not resign from office.

"I started hearing [Blair] in early April taking issue with the students that were painted on the mural," said Paul Kantan, coordinator for the Safe Routes to School Program, one of the groups engaged in the concept for the mural. "He represents a viewpoint that understands this mural to be about dark-skinned children, and not about the students at this school."

However, Kapp said the four children pictured in the mural, a mix of white and minority students, represent the diversity of the school and Prescott as a whole.

Disregarding the allegations of racism, Lane said almost half of the children who attend Miller Valley are in fact minority students.

One thing is for sure -- people are talking about race in Prescott.

"Sometimes communities fail to talk about important issues such as diversity and bigotry and racism, and this mural has lead this beautiful little town of Prescott, Ariz. to have that discussion," Kapp said.

And to artist R.E. Wall, that's the greatest thing he could have asked.

"Dialogue is what's important here," Wall said. "The fact that this caused dialogue ... is the greatest satisfaction to the project."

ABCNews.com contributor Nathan O'Neal is a member of the Arizona State University ABC News on Campus bureau.

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