As of May 29, students can enjoy the new mural on the wall of the Student Center, a project orchestrated by Latinos Unidos.

When sexual misconduct allegations against Palo Alto High School alum James Franco surfaced late last year, the district took action to paint over Franco’s mural on the Student Center walls. They then commissioned the Latinos Unidos club, with the help of the Black Student Union and AP Art students, to design and paint a replacement.

Called “And Still I Rise,” after Maya Angelou’s famous poem, the new mural illustrates 10 inspirational figures who embody the goal of Latinos Unidos and the Black Student Union — equality.

“It’s about social justice, social empowerment,” said senior Ricardo Lombera, Latinos Unidos club president. “Not only racial and ethnic equality, but also gender equality.”

Latinos Unidos club president Ricardo Lombera explains the significance of the new mural. Photo by Gila Winefeld

Lombera asserts that the mural’s main purpose is not merely to serve as a manifestation of Latinos Unidos, or of any other club, but to unite the entire Paly community.

“We just really hope that it [the mural] brings more representation for other students and that they see that a person from every single culture has brought something to the world,” Lombera said. “That’s the main goal of it — to show that everybody has contributed in some sort of way and, basically, that we’re all equal, that we’re all in the fight together.”

In order to convey this message, the club chose to include social justice leaders from all over the world, including Cesar Chavez, Malala Yousafzai, Gandhi and Helen Keller. According to Lombera, the orange monarch butterflies that are scattered across the mural are the unofficial symbol of “Dreamers” — those protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — and represent the idea that “everybody deserves equal rights, no matter their place of origin,” Lombera said.

Although Latinos Unidos unveiled the mural just within the last couple days of the school year, many students have already taken notice.

“It [the mural] is great, and [it has] a lot of influential people,” sophomore Anushka Tahiliani said. “It’s nice that they’re represented in our school. It’s very inspiring.”