The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Mass., responded to complaints about a mural depicting the first Dr. Seuss children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” saying the museum will take down the mural.
The mural has been the target of accusations of racism over its depiction of a Chinese character. That criticism ramped up Thursday with the posting on social media of a letter from children’s authors Mike Curato, Mo Willems and Lisa Yee.
The authors called the Chinese caricature on the mural, which they refer to as “the Chinaman,” a “jarring racial stereotype,” adding that they find the caricature “deeply hurtful, and have concerns about children’s exposure to it.”
The letter notes that the Chinese man in the mural is “depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat, and slanted slit eyes.” You can read the authors’ letter in full by clicking here.
The authors declared in the letter that they would not be attending the inaugural Springfield Children’s Literature Festival, which had been planned for Oct. 14. The event has since been canceled by the museum.
MassLive reports that the museum responded Thursday night with a statement saying the mural would be replaced “with a new image that reflects the wonderful characters and messages from Dr. Seuss’s later works.”
The museum’s statement adds: “This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, like ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who,’ showed a great respect for fairness and diversity. Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change.”
The statement also says: “Theodor Seuss Geisel … was a man of his times. He was also a man who evolved with his times. Dr. Seuss’s own story is a story of growth with some early works containing hurtful stereotypes to later works like ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ which contain lessons of tolerance and inclusion.
“It is in that spirit that Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the Springfield Museums listened to the concerns voiced by the authors and fans and have made the decision to take down the Mulberry Street mural.”
The artwork featured in the controversial mural appeared in Theodor Geisel’s first Dr. Seuss book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was published in 1937. The character is described by Dr. Seuss in the book as “a Chinese man who eats with sticks.”
The museum did not indicate when it would be taken down or which characters would appear in its replacement.