Christopher Columbus Statue Returns: Three years after being removed from a park in Providence, Rhode Island, the Christopher Columbus statue has been relocated back to Johnston, about 9 miles west of the state’s capital. This move has sparked a debate about Christopher Columbus’s image, part of a more extensive debate on historical figures in modern society.
Before the figure went to Johnston, there was a lot of talk. It was a target for vandals who painted it red and wrote critical words about Columbus’s actions on his voyages. 2020, the statue was removed due to increasing protests against controversial historical monuments.
People in Johnston were proud to have the Columbus figure representing the local Italian-American community. They believed it was crucial to American, Italian-American, and general history. Mayor Polisena Jr. noted that Columbus was historically significant despite criticism.
Joseph Paolino Jr., former mayor of Providence, bought the figure for around $50,000 and requested Johnston to provide it with a new home. The Columbus statue, depicting him with one hand on a globe and the other pointing forward, will be officially unveiled in its new location.
The move of Christopher Columbus has sparked differing views. Some argue against its return due to its reminder of Indigenous exploitation and colonization. Celebrating Columbus today is seen as insensitive to Indigenous people’s pain due to his association with oppression.
Black Lives Matter means: Harrison Tuttle, head of the RI PAC, expressed concerns about reinstating the statue and discussed Columbus’s hostile actions. Tuttle said Italian-Americans shouldn’t look to Columbus for national pride due to his troubled past.
The Rhode Island debate on the Columbus statue is part of a national discussion on historical figures and monuments. Columbus statues were protested and removed in Boston, Richmond, Sacramento, and Philadelphia after requests.
Darrell Waldron, from the Rhode Island Indian Council, said Columbus’ heritage harms Indigenous people due to past injustices. Instead, he argued for honouring and remembering Indigenous peoples’ achievements and history.
The statue relocation discussion is part of a conversation about renaming the government holiday honouring Christopher Columbus. President Joe Biden proclaimed the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021. This reflected a shift in public perception of Native Americans and their cultural heritage.
As communities address historical and cultural challenges, the return of the Columbus statue to Johnston sparks discussions about historical figures and their relevance in today’s society.