Racine YMCA covers murals of prominent Wisconsin figures

Racine YMCA covers murals of prominent Wisconsin figures
Posted at 12:21 PM, Sep 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-30 13:26:55-04

RACINE, Wis. (AP) -- Murals of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, activist Maria Morales and former NBA player Will Bynum have been covered up at a southeast Wisconsin neighborhood center as it becomes a YMCA.

Racine YMCA CEO Jeff Collen told The Journal Times that the YMCA decided to paint over Moore's and Morales' murals because the facility doesn't want to be involved politically. Collen didn't comment on why Bynum's mural was covered.

"It's the Y doing what the Y does: making a difference in the community and trying to stay away from anything that's political," Collen said. "The general feeling was they (the painted-over murals) were there and placed there for political reasons."

But local minister Yusuf Buckley said he's concerned covering the portraits sends the wrong message to young people.

"What does that say to young black women?" he said. "What message does that send? That even when you make it to the top, we can cover you up. That's ridiculous."

Moore said she's "heartbroken" her mural has been covered. Morales said she was hurt by the news but would recover.

"I know a lot of people don't like me," Morales said. "I do what I do and I don't do it for self-gratification."

Both said they're confident their legacies will live on.

"They can paint me over and they can't wipe me out," Moore said.

Bynum's representative didn't respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

The Racine Family YMCA board voted in February to purchase the Bray Center, which closed in September 2016 because of financial issues.