Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is directing his Commission on Public Art to review the city’s public art, and determine whether any of Louisville’s pieces could be interpreted to be “honoring bigotry, racism and/or slavery.”
Fischer’s announcement comes a day after white nationalists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting that city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray also called for the removal of that city’s Confederate statues earlier today.
“I recognize that some people say all these monuments should be left alone, because they are part of our history,” Fischer said in a news release. “But we need to discuss and interpret our history from multiple perspectives and from different viewpoints. That’s why a community conversation is crucial.
“Both our human values and the future of our city depend on our ability to directly address the challenges that stop each and every citizen from realizing their potential. We, as a compassionate community, must again come together and face up to the stain of slavery and racism, as we move toward a future that embraces diversity as a strength.”
On Sunday morning, as the country was reeling from the violence in Charlottesville that left one counter-protester and two state troopers dead, one of Louisville’s own monuments was vandalized. The statue of John Breckinridge Castleman, a former Confederate officer, which sits in the city’s Cherokee Triangle neighborhood was marked with orange paint. The statue was erected in 1913 and restored in 2013.
In his news release, Fischer said it’s worth having a conversation about works like this one, which might be a neighborhood landmark to some, but to others represent racism and a painful time in the country’s history. Fischer said the work to remove the paint was halted on Sunday, until the expert who lead the statue’s restoration in 2013 could be consulted.
Fischer said a community conversation will be had about the art displayed in Louisville after his commission issues its recommendations. The city’s monument to Confederate soldiers which used to sit near the University of Louisville was moved to Brandenberg late last year.