The Christopher Columbus statue hastily removed from City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, two years ago could potentially make a 'conditional' return to its namesake town, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Created by the city and the Columbus Art Commission, a 14-member statue committee recommended that the statue be redisplayed, with the conditions that an appropriate location be found and that it be accompanied by new materials presenting historical background about the explorer.
A consultant "specializing in the research and development of narrative content, its display and associated community learning opportunities" would develop that "contextual information," which must include:
- Information on indigenous communities, including their history, experiences with European explorers and settlers, the erasure of their culture and appropriation of their lands, and why they view some historical statues negatively.
- Columbus’ personal story, including his exploration milestones along with his violent behavior toward the indigenous people he encountered.
- The story of the statue itself, its creator, and its donation as a gift from sister city Genoa, Italy, in 1955, including the behind-the-scenes work of the Columbus Italian-American community in securing the gift.
- Details of Italian immigration into the United States, and the cultural, political, economic, and social discrimination immigrants faced, as well as the changing national and local demographics that would also include the story of migration of African Americans from the South.
- The story of the city of Columbus, including how it was named, its historic use of Christopher Columbus imagery, what the city represents today, and "why the city is considering re-installing the Christopher Columbus statue."
During the summer of 2020, statues of Columbus and other historical figures became highly controversial and the targets of vandals during social-justice riots and protests, following the killing of George Floyd by since-convicted Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
Saying it represented "patriarchy, oppression, and divisiveness," to many, and didn't represent "our great city," Mayor Andrew J. Ginther ordered the statue removed in July 2020. "We will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past," he added.
Often celebrated as the "first person" to discover the Western Hemisphere, the Italian explorer is better remembered by native peoples for genocide and exploitation.
To Italians, however, Columbus is commonly regarded as a cultural icon. The city's Italian-American community hopes to have a decision on the statue’s fate by this Columbus Day Oct. 10, Landa Masdea Brunetto told the Dispatch. Brunetto is a member of a city committee examining the statue’s future and represents the Italian-American community.
"It's not a done deal," said Masdea Brunetto. "Anything can happen at any time. I don't think any of us feel it's definitely coming back."
According to the request for proposals on its website, the city aims to find a new home for the statue by the time the statue committee is asked to vote on the measure.
The Columbus Art Commission, which controls all city-owned art, including the statue, would also have to vote.
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