Mural to honor UM’s first black student
Ann Arbor – A Detroit artist is working with University of Michigan students to create a mural depicting the school’s first black student.
Artist Tylonn Sawyer and the students want to honor Samuel Watson, a doctor who attended the Michigan’s medical school in the 1850s. University researchers say Watson, who was of mixed race, passed as white while attending the school.
Watson ultimately received a medical degree from the Cleveland Medical School and became Detroit’s first elected black city official.
The mural is inside the Ann Arbor campus’ Modern Languages Building. A related exhibition runs Nov. 18-Dec. 19 at the Institute for Humanities Gallery, and Sawyer is scheduled to speak at the opening reception on Nov. 21.
Sawyer says he was inspired by current efforts to censor or remove post-Civil War Confederate monuments.