ENGLAND, Ark. — A community known for its cotton fields, added a piece of public artwork set back in an earlier time of its history, but some looking at the nod of the past, don’t find it very innocent.
At the corner of Main Street and Fordyce in the agricultural town of England, you’ll find a newly painted mural.
The town's chamber undertook the project with a vision to express how the community formed and progressed over the years through agriculture.
"It's another tomb stone on a black's head for them to be down," said Quartez Clark, an England man.
"I feel like it's racist,” said one woman.
The community once had a mural painted there, but over the years it chipped and faded.
The Chamber of Commerce recently raised money to paint over it after many requests were made to replace it.
In the artwork you’ll find two laborers working in a cotton field.
According to the chamber volunteers, it was carefully thought out to increase vibrancy and beautify downtown, but some don’t see it that way.
"It's a subliminal message. They can't do that, we are past that,” said Clark.
Some African Americans in the community believe the mural depicts a real slave plantation.
In it, you can spot two laborers with work hats on, hauling cotton, but the color of their skin is un-identifiable.
"You know, people create their own imagination on what's on the other side of that hat,” said Bernie Laster, an England native.
Lasiter is a Caucasian man who is having trouble finding racism in the picture because, in the 1940’s, he began picking cotton in England farm fields.
So when he looks at the mural, he sees himself hauling cotton.
"The black people were there. The white people were there. We all worked together,” said Clark. “We didn’t see racism.”
Though the chamber said intentions were not to offend anyone, some residents don’t want the image to represent their town.
"Can you guys please take it down,” said one man. “That's all I’m asking.”
Members of the chamber said the mural is not complete. It’s expected to be finished by mid-July, but it’s unclear what the completed piece will look like.