Columbus State Community College (CSCC) announced Tuesday it will remove its Christopher Columbus statue that has been on its Columbus downtown campus since 1988.
“In taking this action, we are being mindful of societal change and forward movement,” Columbus State Board of Trustees President Anthony Joseph said. “We do not seek to erase history, but to make an intentional shift in what we visibly honor and celebrate as an institution. This is the first of many steps in what will be a lengthy journey as the College seeks to build on and improve our ongoing efforts toward broadened diversity and inclusion.”
Columbus State President David Harrison said the statue removal is a commitment to its college and college community that it will continue to fight against “systemic racism.”
“Recent events, including the senseless deaths of African-Americans and the resulting anguish across the nation, compelled us to act on a years-long internal dialogue about the statue and the message it sends in our community. This inflection point will inform College policy and action both now and for years to come.”
The school said the statue will be removed within the next two weeks and it will begin looking for a new art piece to replace the Columbus statue. The art piece will be stored in another location, according to the school’s press release.
“Statues are designed to celebrate our past, provide meaning to our present, and direct our future,” Reuel Barksdale, a professor at CSCC said.8 “Nearly twenty-five years ago, my arrival to the faculty of Columbus State included an orientation which described the statue in the center of our campus as a celebration of exploration and the never-ending desire to become what we had yet to become. The removal of this statue declares that this institution has in fact moved closer to becoming what we have yet to become.”
In a statement to the CSCC community, Harrison said the decision to remove the Columbus statue was not inspired by the recent George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery incidents. However, the school president said the decision came from a years-long dialogue with students of color who were “harmed and traumatized by systemic racism.”
“Our students, community, faculty, and staff have consistently and patiently asked for the removal of the statue,” Harrison said. We are listening. We will continue to grow as an institution that educates and inspires not only in the classroom but in every aspect of what we present to the community we serve. We commit to facilitate these difficult conversations and thoughtfully assess our present and future with an eye towards transparency, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Originally, the Columbus statue created by sculptor Alfred Solani in 1959 was installed in an Illinois park, the CSCC press release said.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2.
Photo “Christopher Columbus Statue” by CSCC.