Over the weekend, we posted a link to a photograph Gammablog took of an open letter from the Cornelia Connelly Center school to whomever scrawled "Don't Walk Away In Silence" with spray paint on an outside wall.


The school painted over the graffiti and then the graffiti returned. So they posted a letter, "Dear Political Graffiti Artist":

While it's hard to disagree with your message, we wonder if you realize that you've written it on our local school. We serve the families of this local community, and teach our girls to stand up for their rights, and the rights of others -- so you are preaching to the choir.

More importantly, we want our students to have the beautiful school they deserve, so now we'll have to pay, once again, to have this wall re-painted. We fundraise the majority of our budget to make a high quality eduction affordable to the families of our community.

We could have used the money we'll spend on this wall for a school trip to reward our extremely hard working teachers or even to provide supplies to low-income students; instead we must now spend it on paint and labor to cover your graffiti. It would mean a great deal to us if you would follow your own suggestion, not walk away in silence from your actions, and come to our school to offer your help in re-painting the wall.

The students of the Lower East Side deserve that.

It turned out the line was a tribute to Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, from his song Atmosphere. But then a new letter appeared (photographed at top and below; full text is after the jump) from the Cornelia Connelly Center, a middle school that serves students from low-income families:


Someone anonymously left $100 for the re-painting, and someone else had put a photo of Ian Curtis next to the graffiti. The school's director Connie Bush told AMNY, "I mean look at me. Forgive me, but do I really look like someone who knows who Joy Division is?" But she appreciated the donation and added that it had been a good lesson for the students, "The message is one we want our girls to hear -- to take action, to speak up." We were looking the Cornelia Connelly Center's website, and it looks like they accept donations via NYC Charities, too.

Photographs by [~~Walter~~] on Flickr

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we learned of the meaning of the graffiti on our wall. Many people stopped to read the note written by one of our teachers, explaining the impact of having to pay (twice) for materials and labor to repaint the wall.

We wanted to give an update.

The message "Don't Walk Away in Silence" is a line from the Joy Division song "Atmosphere." The painting on the wall was meant to commemorate the death of Ian Curtis (Joy Division's lead singer). May 18th was the 27th anniversary of his death.

While we will still have to repaint the wall, we wanted to share the meaning behind the message. We also want to give thanks to the kind and generous person who left money at the school to help pay for the repainting of the wall and we wanted to share our gratitude.

- Cornelia Connelly Center faculty