Syracuse mural celebrates Che Guevara and Malcolm X, likens them to MLK, Mother Teresa

The university features the artwork prominently in a student center on a high traffic area.

A plaque in the display eulogizes Guevera as an 'Argentinian, Author, Guerilla [sic] Leader, [and] Revolutionary Theorist,' with no acknowledgement of his murderous past.

Syracuse University is honoring former radical left-wing figures like Cuban Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara and black nationalist Malcolm X with a mural framing, depicting them alongside figures like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr.

The university is showcasing these two individuals in spite of the fact that Guevara was a mass murderer, and Malcolm once met with the KKK to suggest the anti-Semitic idea that Jews were behind the integration movement that the Klan opposed.

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The mural is located in the Goldstein Student Center on the school’s South Campus, a high-traffic, residential area primarily for non-freshman students.

Syracuse Chancellor Ken Syverud told Campus Reform he has not seen the mural and does not know whether it is intended to convey the figures as role models. Although he noted that he does not consider Guevera to be his own personal role model, he stressed that Syracuse features the displays as a matter of “free expression.”

”Nevertheless, as you know, free expression is a value we protect when we are at our best here ... That is particularly true for artistic expression,” he said.

Like the other figures in the mural, Guevara is associated with four positive attributes that form a cross pattern in the artwork. These consist of the words “Celebrate,” “Imagine,” “Question,” and “Explore.” All individuals in the mural are accompanied by a plaque that provides some brief descriptors accompanied by a quote. 

Guevara and Malcolm are depicted in a similar fashion to that of other 20th century icons like MLK, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa, thereby implying a moral equivalence.

Guevara’s plaque refers to him as an  “Argentinian, Author, Guerilla [sic] Leader, Revolutionary Theorist,” but makes no mention of his time as a brutal executioner and suppressor of dissent. 

Notably, the plaque also excludes the word “Marxist” or “socialist,” but the quote listed from Guevara communicates the his leftist ideology.

“Man really attains the state of complete humanity when he produces, without being forced by physical need to sell himself as a commodity,” the plaque reads.

Despite the rosy picture the mural paints of Guevara, not everyone on campus is pleased with the display. Upon close inspection, Campus Reform was able to determine that an “X” had been carved across Guevara’s face in defiance by an unknown actor.

Building Coordinator Peter Cass, who had taken over his role last year, said he did not know when or why the mural was created.

When asked for his personal opinion on the matter, Cass claimed he didn’t “have much of an opinion” on it due to him having “never really paid that much attention to the mural.” Cass indicated that the Office of Design and Construction would be responsible for the mural and Guevara’s inclusion.

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Syracuse is not alone in sponsoring violent socialists and communists on campus. 

In March 2022, Campus Reform reported 10 universities with similar displays and practices, with the most blatant among them being the “Che Cafe” at the University of California, San Diego. Campus Reform also reported in September 2021 that the cafe features a large mural of Guevara, and the area even hosts a “radical book club” to openly promote leftist political groups on campus.

Campus Reform reached out to Syracuse’s Office of Design and Construction. This article will be updated accordingly.