Mason’s Vanderbilt mural to be changed

If you’ve ever been to Vanderbilt, you’ve likely seen the side of the building that is painted with murals of the school’s head coaches.

Derek Mason. Vanderbilt photo

Derek Mason. Vanderbilt photo

New football coach Derek Mason recently was added, but his likeness was not received well.

The Vanderbilt chapter of the NAACP recently complained about the mural.

It stated that not only does it not look like Mason, it is “reminiscent of the minstrelsy era in which black people’s skin was darkened and their lips were made whiter in order to exaggerate their race in order to put them in a sharp contrast with the white race,” Akailah Harris, president of the Vanderbilt chapter of the NAACP, told The Tennessean.

Nashville painter Michael Cooper will change how Mason looks in the mural.

“I have been painting on this mural for 22 years, and every time that I have worked on a portrait of a coach, I have always had a chance to meet the coach,” Cooper told the paper. “In this particular instance, I never got a chance to meet Coach Mason, and the only thing I had to go on was a photograph sent to me by Vanderbilt athletics.”

Mason said: “I don’t believe the painting is representative of me, personally. But if that’s somebody’s depiction, then so be it. There are still freedoms that are still allowed in this country, but when I look at it, I don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of me.”

Mason, who was the defensive coordinator at Stanford, was hired to replace James Franklin, who was hired by Penn State. Franklin was an impressive 24-15 in his three years at Vanderbilt.

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