Update (11:11 a.m.): The Franklin County Board of Commissioners announced today that Juneteenth would be an official paid county holiday for employees. It will replace Columbus Day. This will go into effect in 2021.
On Tuesday, Columbus State Community College announced that it would be removing the Christopher Columbus statue that has been on the campus since 1988.
The statue was created in 1959 and was first installed in an Illinois park before residing on the Columbus State campus for the next three decades. The college announced that it expects to put the statue in storage within the next two weeks and a new art installation will take its place.
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Early that next morning, though, a group was caught vandalizing the statue, possibly sending a message that the statue’s removal from campus isn’t enough. For some people, complete erasure from history is what they are seeking—but historians and city officials are more focused on next steps.
“We do not seek to erase history, but to make an intentional shift in what we visibly honor and celebrate as an institution,” said Columbus State Board of Trustees Chair Anthony Joseph in a press release on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther announced the removal of the second of three Christopher Columbus statues, located on the Broad Street side of City Hall.
“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression, and divisiveness,” said Ginther in a press release. “That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past.”
But to completely erase it? That’s not so clear-cut. The preservation of America’s dark history has many precedents, including the Holocaust. While it was one of humanity’s worst moments, there are many places throughout the world where you can learn about its history. While some may argue we should eliminate anything to do with its past, others believe there are appropriate places for artifacts from the Holocaust, or from the days of slavery, like Christopher Columbus’ statue, where they can be studied and observed.
The Ohio History Center has been a name that has come up quite a bit this week in regards to legitimate homes for removed Christopher Columbus statues. While it encourages the community to engage in conversations about the preservation of monuments, the Ohio History Center wants to use this moment in history to focus on telling the stories in history that we don’t know so well.
“Right now our focus is centered on preserving and sharing stories that have traditionally been left out of our history books and museums, like those from the Black and American Indian communities,” the Ohio History Center said in a statement provided by Public Relations Coordinator Savannah Robles.
Funding to preserve the statue was another issue brought up by the Ohio History Center.
Even without the knowledge of where Columbus State’s statue will end up, there’s still the question of what will come of the Christopher Columbus statue at the Statehouse, a major hub of the protests that have taken place over the past few weeks?
City officials have not yet made a decision on the removal of the last remaining statute.