Our country has a deep, institutional history of enslaving people for personal gain and passing the gains to future generations of white people. It’s terribly sad, something we have to live with and a condition we constantly try to address.
Relegating statues to museums for the purpose of removing positive portrayals of our racist history from the public square, as one small step, makes sense to me. However, I also recognize that choosing which icons to remove will become difficult when we are reminded how many of our historical heroes practiced enslaving people or harbored racist philosophies.
This leads me to think of another possibility. Could we contribute to a new generation of statues that explicitly reflect acknowledgment and aspirations for our future? How about one of Abraham Lincoln standing at equal stature beside one or more representatives from our enslavement history? I would include Frederick Douglass, for example. The figures would be standing before a Robert E. Lee who is bent down on his knees offering his sword to those standing. A sculptor could be commissioned to portray the figures in a way to convey multiple messages, including: We admit we were wrong, and there is still an opportunity for forgiveness, reconciliation, respect and working together to erase racism.
Could Idaho Falls embrace such a public work of art?