Statues of slave-trading colonizer Christopher Columbus are coming down across America. In Columbus, Ohio, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther announced a statue of the city’s namesake would be taken down from City Hall. Now, some are suggesting Columbus change its name altogether. Perhaps a name that reflects what joys the place has give to the world. Perhaps a name that celebrates hometown hero, Guy Fieri. So, why not Flavortown?
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Guy Fieri is a world-famous restauranteur and Emmy-winning TV personality, who has brought the wonders of American cuisine to audiences through shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy’s Big Bite. “Flavortown” is the catchphrase this bleached blonde and bombastic figure uses to celebrate a dish that’s divine.
According to 32-year-old Tyler Woodbridge, it’s a far better name than one that pays tribute to a foolish, self-aggrandizing racist who reaped destruction wherever he laid down an anchor. CNN reports Woodbridge started a petition to rechristen Columbus as “Flavortown.” Already, it has over 43,000 signatures.
Much like the Dolly Parton petition, Woodbridge’s argument is simple:
Columbus is an amazing city, but one whose name is tarnished by the very name itself. Its namesake, Christopher Columbus, is in The Bad Place because of all his raping, slave trading, and genocide. That’s not exactly a proud legacy.
Why not rename the city Flavortown? The new name is twofold. For one, it honors Central Ohio’s proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation’s largest test markets for the food industry. Secondly, cheflebrity Guy Fieri was born in Columbus, so naming the city in honor of him (he’s such a good dude, really) would be superior to its current nomenclature.
Meanwhile, more tributes to racist are being toppled across America thanks to the power of the Black Lives Matter movement. More, and more, and more tributes to the Confederacy, slavers, colonizers, and proudly racist politicians are coming down. Here’s another round-up of the latest.
In New York City, a Juneteenth BLM demonstration at Columbus Circle had protesters calling for the dismantling of the 75-foot statue of its notorious namesake. They chanted “Take This F—-ing Statue Down,” but it seems unlikely Governor Andrew Cuomo will listen. (Gothamist)
Also in New York City, the Museum of Natural History has announced it will remove its bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, which has the president flanked by a Native American man and an African man in poses of seeming submission. For years, activists have demanded this; the BLM protests finally pushed the museum and the City of New York to agree.
Wow. The Teddy Roosevelt statue outside the main entrance to the American Museum of Natural History is coming down—at the AMNH's request. https://t.co/3a2XF88rxl— Angus Johnston 😷 (@studentactivism) June 21, 2020
The museum’s president, Ellen V. Futter stated, “Over the last few weeks, our museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd. We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism.” She went on to note the issue with the statue is not Roosevelt himself, but the “hierarchical composition” of the piece. (NYT)
Trump was furious.
The D.C. Police are not doing their job as they watch a statue be ripped down & burn. These people should be immediately arrested. A disgrace to our Country! @MayorBowser— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2020
Also on Juneteenth, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saw that every portrait of a past Speaker who was a member of the Confederacy be removed from the halls of the Capitol building. Paintings of Robert Hunter of Virginia, James Orr of South Carolina, and Howell Cobb and Charles Crisp, both of Georgia, were taken down and put in storage.
In her request for their removals, Pelosi wrote, “The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. There is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy.” (Slate)
Yesterday, D.C. demonstrators tried to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson, which sits across from the White House. The slave-owning president is infamous for into signing law the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which booted Native Americans from land east of the Mississippi River, pushing thousands to die on the Trail of Tears. Police intervention stopped protesters’ efforts to topple this genocidal president. For now. (NPR)
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a statue of Columbus has been repeatedly vandalized. (WTAE)
thank you fellow Pittsburghers for fixing the Columbus statue by Phipps. Y'all are the best. Let's keep this up until it's taken down. pic.twitter.com/JZK7iWgpzB— Dr. Sebastian Alejandro Echeverri, PhD・He/His (@spiderdayNight) June 16, 2020
In several instances, vandalizing by protesters has been the first step for getting a racist statue taken down by the city. This could be why a confederate monument was sprayed with #BLM in Macon, Georgia.
Vandals spray painted a Confederate statue on 2nd St. in downtown Macon. pic.twitter.com/Ahz3ttSE8a— Chip Matthews (@NewsTipChip) June 17, 2020
However, this statue wasn’t taken down by protesters, it was recontextualized by new art. Local artists gathered to create a wall around the statue, then covered it with a Black Lives Matter inspired mural to celebrate Juneteenth. They called it “Block the Hate.” (Macon.com)
In Portland, Oregon, a BLM march that began at Jefferson High School ended with demonstrators tearing down an exterior statue of the school’s namesake. Thomas Jefferson was known to own 600 slaves in his lifetime while penning the Declaration of Independence and the line “all men are created equal.” (Oregon Live)
At his embarrassing Tulsa turnout, Trump would denounce these demonstrators as “left-wing anarchists.” However, one of those demonstrators told a local news outlet, “There wasn’t rage. We were doing this thing that should’ve been done, that people in charge aren’t doing.” (Willamette Week)
In Richmond, Virginia, the future of a massive monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee is uncertain. It’s been repeatedly vandalized by protesters. Lee’s descendant, Reverand Robert W. Lee, IV, has called for it to be taken down. Governor Ralph Northam announced it’s to be removed and placed in storage, while the city decides what to do with it. However, lawsuits sprung up to block this move. Last Wednesday, concrete barriers were placed around the embattled monument to the Confederacy, with the seeming goal to block protesters from tearing it down themselves. Richmond protesters had successfully toppled a statue of President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, Confederate and plantation owner Williams Carter Wickham, and Christopher Columbus. (WIJLA)
A judge blocked the removal of a Confederate statue in Virginia of Robert E. Lee, which is currently covered in graffiti.— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 18, 2020
The governor ordered it removed, but that is being held up by a lawsuit over an 1890 land deed. Three other such statues have been toppled by protesters. pic.twitter.com/P6D1smOqxQ
Last Tuesday, Richmond’s protesters pulled down a fourth racist monument, The Confederate Howitzer Statue, which was unveiled in 1892 to commemorate a Confederate artillery unit. The city then hauled it off to an undisclosed location. Which might suggest the battle of this statue isn’t over. (WRIC)
In Farmville, Virginia, the town council voted to remove Virginia Defenders of State Sovereignty Confederate Soldier Monument, a statue honoring Confederate veterans, which was mounted by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1900. The future of the statue is unknown. In some of these cases, the monuments are being moved out of the public eye, essentially for safekeeping. They might be destroyed, returned to the organizations that made them, or relocated to cemeteries or museums, where a greater historical context can be offered, which would combat the seeming celebration of enslavers. (ABC 13)
Farmville, Virginia removes a Confederate statue from the public sphere. pic.twitter.com/AwGa1yI5pG— Jamie Dyer (@cvillejamied) June 19, 2020
In Denton, Texas, County Commissioners voted unanimously to relocate a Confederate Soldier memorial that stood downtown. Erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1918, the tall arc topped with a lone Confederate soldier has been at the center of controversy for the last 20 years. The decision to remove it comes chiefly so the city will stop having to send workers to clean graffiti off of it. It’s future beyond the removal from the public is undecided. (Cross Timbers Gazette)
Hi Denton, the confederate statue is finally coming down after years of protests pic.twitter.com/Rwc2KjP3h7— alex (@aleexlockhart) June 14, 2020
On Juneteenth in San Francisco, California, protesters pulled down a statue of President Grant, who led the Union Army during the Civil War, and of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Though he fought for the Union, historians note Grant did own a slave, and married into a slave-owner family. (The Hill)
Statue of Francis Scott Key, slave owner and author of the Star Spangled Banner, toppled in San Francisco. pic.twitter.com/uhoSNVmoEn— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) June 20, 2020
As for Key, he came from slave-owning family, and fought to preserve what he called this “peculiar institution.” As a prosecutor, he went after early abolitionists. He was an advisor and U.S. district attorney under President Andrew Jackson, whose “presidency brought brutal, racially motivated mob violence like never before, including a race riot in Washington, D.C.” Plus, the full lyrics of our national anthem get rancid around verse three. (The Undefeated)
Also toppled in San Franciso was a statue of St. Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan priest and missionary who is credited with spreading Catholicism across California. However, historians note his missions were built by enslaving indigenous tribes to do the hard labor. “Native Americans brought into the mission to be evangelized were not allowed to leave the grounds. Many labored for no pay. There is evidence of beatings, imprisonment and other abuse at the hands of the missionaries.” (America Magazine)
The San Fransisco Archdiocese condemned the protesters’ toppling of a genocidal saint, stating, “The memorialization of historic figures merits an honest and fair discussion as to how and to whom such honor should be given. But here, there was no such rational discussion; it was mob rule, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself throughout the country.” (Kron4)
To be clear, Junipero Serra committed genocide. His missions functioned as forced labor camps where Indigenous people were enslaved, shackled, beaten, and infected with European diseases that killed them by the thousands. https://t.co/k8hUywb92W— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) June 20, 2020
Finally, in Raleigh, North Carolina, protesters took down two Confederate statues that sat outside the Capitol building on Juneteenth. Then, they dragged one down the street and lynched it, hanging it from a street sign. (ABC 11)
THEY LITERALLY H*NG A CONFEDERATE STATUE IN MY CITY pic.twitter.com/eQ19LgopQ7— 🧑🏾🎤 (@workingoncrying) June 20, 2020
Local news spoke with social justice activist Kerwin Pittman about the Raleigh teardown, to which he offered this insight: “To any form of democracy, there’s no smooth road. So however they come down, so be it. If the powers that be are not willing to officially take them down, as you can see, the people want them removed, the people want them down, but yet they’re still up. So what you’re seeing right now is outcry from the people saying they want these Confederate monuments down in the city of Raleigh.”
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