Goodbye Columbus.

Harriet Tubman in Harlem.

Anne and I were in Athens, Greece last year at the same time Mike Pompeo paid a visit.

Thousands of Greeks protested his visit.

Not far from our hotel where we were staying stands a statue of Harry Truman.

Every time there is a protest of American policies or a visit from somebody like Pompeo, Greeks march on over to the statue of Harry Truman and throw red paint at it.

In 1987 the monument was blown off its pedestal a few nights before the arrival of Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

The Socialist Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou restored it and put it back.

It has been a source of controversy ever since.

Monuments matter. They symbolize what a society literally stands for.

They illustrate our values.

At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, southern segregationists erected Confederate memorials across the south.

As a delegate to an NEA convention a few years ago I offered a proposal that we, the largest union of educators in the world, should support taking the crap down. Following the longest debate in NEA convention history, my proposal was adopted and was never heard from again.

In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, many of those monuments are being taken town by official and unofficial means.

The lesson is that direct action beats convention proposals most of the time.

In Chicago there is a demand to take down a statue of Christopher Columbus in a park on the west side. Columbus was a murderer and enslaver of indigenous people. He should not be honored.

The statue should come down.

The idea that statues of enslavers and murderers should remain for their educational value is nonsense.

There is no need to mention Hitler at this point. And besides, it doesn’t work that way. Teachers can teach the truth about Columbus just fine without a statue.

I’m glad we have a street named for Ida B. Wells. But to me that great woman was also disrespected and used so we could keep a street named for Italo Balbo, an Italian Blackshirt leader who served as Italy’s Marshal of the Air Force, Governor-General of Libya, Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa, and the “heir apparent” to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. That is offensive.

And that monument to fascism on the lake front across from Soldier Field.

Take it down.

I posted a picture yesterday that  I took of a statue to Harriet Tubman from a visit to Harlem last year.

We need more of that.

We need more public honoring of those whose actions we want our children to emulate.

We don’t need any more negative examples.

As long-time educator I can tell you that modeling what is right is the best way to teach.

3 thoughts on “Goodbye Columbus.

  1. Trump believes that he can officially authorize the Federal Government to arrest people and put them in prison for up to 10 years. Dictator Trump has spoken. Hail to our__________. [POTUS POS]
    Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning: “I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent… This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”

  2. I grew up in heavily Italian-American neighborhoods on the Southside of Chicago during the ’50s and ’60s. We were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America and brought culture, civilization and potential inhabitation to a desolate area that had raw lands that needed cultivation and savages that needed enlightenment. This was the Italian-American chance to escape the sleazy Al Capone stereotype.
    We were also taught that Betsy Ross created the American flag as a favor to George Washington who once threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River.
    We now know the truth.
    Tear the damn statue down.
    Facing reality is more important than denial. Of course, millions of people refuse to wear face masks, social distance and wash their hands frequently during a pandemic. Denial is comfortable, yet it sickens the mind and body.
    We now know the truth.
    Tear the damn statue down – and wear masks as it is torn down.

  3. Lying by omission was a black sin…committed in order to hide the dark revolting truth…of course.

    Can you imagine being Black and having to hear the President proclaim Slave holding rebel traitors as “Heroes”?…I’m positive I can’t.

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