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At the southern end of The Boulevard, Richmond celebrates the legacy of Christopher Columbus with a statue. And on the second Monday of every October, he gets wreaths of flowers. The statue was dedicated in 1927. What if there were no statue here? Would Columbus be your first choice?
Maybe that’s not a fair question. The statue was financed by the Virginians of Italian birth. But, many localities and states don’t even celebrate Columbus Day, instead opting for Native Americans Day or Indigenous People’s Day. At this point, Italian-Americans could probably come up with a better representative than the man who started the trend of enslaving and exterminating the entire Native American population.
How do you feel about the Columbus statue? Public art isn’t necessarily permanent. How long should a statue remain before giving another historic figure a century or so at a somewhat frightening intersection? Who would you rather celebrate there? For years, we’ve been debating whether Arthur Ashe’s statue is going to hit those poor children at his feet. With Columbus, we actually know he met innocents and sought to conquer them.
The significance of Columbus is unquestionable, but the message conveyed by the statue, and the holiday for that matter, seems like an homage to opportunism. But, maybe you take another lesson from the history of Columbus. Go for it in the comments section.