Bellevue College has apologized after one of its vice presidents ‘whited out’ part of an artist description that accompanied a mural depicting two Japanese American children in a World War II California incarceration camp, reported The Seattle Times.
The erased sentence referenced the connection between Japanese immigrants and Bellevue: “After decades of anti-Japanese agitation, led by Eastside businessman Miller Freeman and others, the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans included the 60 families (300 individuals) who farmed Bellevue.”
The school identified Gayle Colston Barge, vice president of institutional advancement, as the person who removed the sentence. She has been placed on paid administrative leave, said The Seattle Times.
The 11-foot mural “Never Again is Now,” created by Seattle artist Erin Shigaki, was installed last week as the school commemorated the Day of Remem
brance, which recognizes the anniversary of the day President Franklin Roosevelt legalized the imprisonment of Japanese Americans.
In an apology letter sent to students and staff, President Jerry Weber wrote, “It was a mistake to alter the artist’s work. Removing the reference gave the impression that the administrator was attempting to remove or rewrite history, a history that directly impacts many today …”
In the letter, Weber also apologized directly to Shigaki and the Asian community. Currently, more than a fifth of the school’s 29,120 students and 1,508 employees are Asian and Pacific Islander.