Mayor Greg Fischer announced today that he’s directing the Louisville Commission on Public Art to review its catalogue of public art to develop a list of pieces that can be interpreted to be honoring bigotry, racism and/or slavery. This is in preparation for a community conversation about their display.
“I recognize that some people say all these monuments should be left alone, because they are part of our history,” Fischer said. “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,” the Mayor said.
The Mayor’s remarks come one day after violence surrounding a white nationalists’ rally in Charlottesville, VA that left three people dead and 35 injured — and nearly a year after the city removed the Confederate Monument at the University of Louisville. The Virginia rally was convened by white nationalists who oppose a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a city park.
Early this morning, a statue of Confederate officer and President of the Board of Park Commissioners John Breckinridge Castleman in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood was vandalized with orange paint. The statue, constructed in 1913, has long been a neighborhood landmark honoring Castleman’s contributions to creating the neighborhood around it, and the Cherokee Neighborhood Association paid thousands to have it restored in 2013.
“For many, this statue is a beloved neighborhood landmark, but for others, it’s a symbol of a painful, tragic and divisive time in our history — which gets at the complexity of this conversation,” the Mayor said. “I believe this is community conversation worth having.”
An effort to remove the paint from the Castleman statue today was halted until the conservator who led its restoration in 2013 could be consulted. The city also is reaching out to the Kentucky Historical Society to discuss how to address vandalism to a nearby sign that the city maintains.
The Confederate Monument on U of L’s campus was moved last fall to become part of an historic Civil War site in neighboring Brandenburg, KY