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Students paint over mural of 'racist' Rudyard Kipling’s If poem and replace with Maya Angelou verse

Sara Khan from the University of Manchester's SU called the decision a "statement on the reclamation of history." Photo: Facebook/Sara Khan

Students at the University of Manchester have painted over a mural of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "If" after claiming the writer was "racist".

The words were replaced by Maya Angelou's verse Still I Rise after claims Kipling stood for the "opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights."

The well-known poem, which had been written in bold, black ink at the university's newly renovated SU building, has been removed on the grounds that it was "deeply inappropriate".

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Sara Khan, Liberation and Access Officer at the University of Manchester Students Union, wrote on Facebook: "A failure to consult students during the process of adding art to the newly renovated SU building resulted in Rudyard Kipling’s work being painted on the first floor last week.

"We, as an exec team, believe that Kipling stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights - the things that we, as an SU, stand for.

Kipling won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. Credit: PA

"Well-known as author of the racist poem 'The White Man’s Burden', and a plethora of other work that sought to legitimate the British Empire’s presence in India and de-humanise people of colour, it is deeply inappropriate to promote the work of Kipling in our SU, which is named after prominent South African anti-Apartheid activist, Steve Biko.

"As a statement on the reclamation of history by those who have been oppressed by the likes of Kipling for so many centuries, and continue to be to this day, we replaced his words with those of the legendary Maya Angelou, a black female poet and civil rights activist."

Maya Angelou was renowned for her literary prowess. Credit: PA

Kipling is perhaps best remembered for authoring the collection of stories that make up children's classic The Jungle Book.

In an tweet posted on Monday, which has since been deleted, General Secretary of Manchester's Student Union Fatima Abid wrote: "Today, as a team, we removed an imperialist’s work from the walls of our union and replaced them with words of the maya angelou.

"God knows black and brown voices have been written out of history enough, and it’s time we try to reverse that, at the very least in our union."