Ben’s Chili Bowl, a D.C. institution and historical landmark since 1958, has painted over its famous mural.
The mural, painted by local artist Aniekan Udofia, originally included portraits of Bill Cosby, Barack Obama, Chuck Brown, and radio’s Donnie Simpson.
Ben’s had been criticized in recent years for refusing to scrub the portrait of Cosby as sexual assault allegations mounted against the friend of the restaurant.
The restaurant’s artist in residence, W. Ellington Felton, told Washingtonian Magazine he helped remove the mural Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and explained the reasoning behind the restaurant’s decision: “Obama’s not in office. It’s the end of an era.”
The wall is now blank and white. Signs direct residents to vote for a new subject on the restaurant’s website.
Management is asking customers to pick what group of people should grace the wall now. More than 50 nominees are on the list, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ludacris, John Lewis, Simone Biles and others. Interestingly, Bill Cosby, Barack Obama and Chuck Brown are nominated to be depicted again.
The website reads:
The mural alongside Ben’s was painted in 2012. Now, after 5 years of braving the elements, its time to refresh and repaint the mural and we want your input! Below you will have the opportunity to pick your top 6 nominees from those listed below. You may also pick your favorite group of people, write in a name for consideration, and write in a complete group of your own. Thanks for your support and suggestions for our 2017 Mural coming to you this Spring.
Of course, many on social media are chiming in about the decision.
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