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UCLA Students Discover Black History Mural Hidden For Nearly 20 Years

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A group of UCLA students say an important part of the black experience on campus has been hidden for two decades and now they’re trying to do something about it.

A hidden gem — a mural that has been behind a wall for 20 years — was recently uncovered.

CBS2 and KCAL9′s Jeff Nguyen spoke to the students who are committed to getting the mural restored to its original glory.

Jason Smith is on a mission to expose a nearly 20 year old cover-up. “It’s automatically almost a white washing, covering up of someone’s history,” he said.

Smith is referring to a 40-year old mural called “The Black Experience” — it symbolizes the struggle of social activism and black history.

“Black Experience” was once prominently seen at UCLA’s Ackerman Union. Seven students — the people who originally painted the mural — are depicted. Key moments in black history are juxtaposed with the artists’ faces.

Since 1992, the mural has been hidden. After a series of renovations, people even forgot the mural was there.

It sits behind a false wall.  And the wall leads into a Panda Express.

Dr. Frank Gilliam, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at UCLA, says the mural is a reminder of social reform during the 1960s and 70s.

“UCLA has a very rich history and the mural captures a very important time in that history,” Gilliam said.

In the nearly 20+ years the mural has been hidden,  black students have comprised about 4 percent of UCLA’s student body.

Daily Bruin writer Estefani Herrera says the director of the Student Union told her — the mural hasn’t been painted over.

Still the painting could use some sprucing up. “In the process of putting in the wall, there were some drills that were put into the wall and over time those areas have started to crumble a little bit,” Herrera said.

The Associated Students of UCLA is now working with the Getty and UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History to figure out how to restore the mural.

Nguyen reports there’s also talk of possibly moving it although the fact the mural was painted directly on the wall will make that prospect difficult.

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