Replace Chris Columbus Statue in Downtown Detroit with a real Hero
This petition had 1,736 supporters
The Raiz Up collective along with a coalition of cultural, religious, and social justice organizations need your support in petitioning the Detroit City Council and the Mayor for the removal and replacement of the bust of Christopher Columbus- just east of Coleman A Young Municipal Center, with a memorial or statue of a local hero or icon that represents our collective communities and values.
We demand that the city memorialize one of our cultural/political forbears such as Tecumseh, Sojourner Truth, Charity Hicks, Chief Pontiac, Judge Damon Keith, or Grace Lee Boggs.
We further demand that the city commission a Detroit artist to create the new monument working with a committee of local historians, scholars, and organizers to to ensure that this new memorial, and existing monuments throughout the city represent the values and stories that we honor.
Finally, we demand that the city of Detroit follow the lead of other cities and end to Columbus Day all together.
What is wrong with Columbus??
“In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue”... He wasn't the first, having followed the Moors, Scandinavians, Chinese, and the Egyptians. He came to Native lands and initiated both the genocide of indigenous peoples and the transatlantic slave trade. Christopher Columbus started mines and plantations throughout the Caribbean, hunted Native Americans for sport and profit -- beat, raped, tortured, killed, and then used Native bodies as dog food. By the 1502 Columbus’ brutality and exploitative labor tactics lead to the extermination of over 3 million indigenous Tainos in the Caribbean. The void of the labor was filled by millions of Africans whose bodies burden by whips and chains maintaining the mines and plantations that would come to dominate the Caribbean and South for generations.
How did this come to be and why?
In 1828, fiction writer Washington Irving created the myth of Columbus as the discoverer of the "new world.". As a hero for growing Catholic migrant populations, Columbus Day became an official national holiday under FDR in 1937. Columbus is a key figure in a national historic narrative, which centers white “western European" settlers as the the definitive “Americans”.. Christopher Columbus has become a central character in the pantheon of “western European” patriarchs, in total, creating a false narrative of their own supremacy, entitlement to these lands, and forming the ideological basis of the alt-right, KKK and American Nazi movement.
Why a new hero?
Most are unaware of the indigenous names of Detroit and its history. The Wendat called these lands Oppenago. The Anishinaabe called it Waawiyaataanong or Zagaajibiising. By failing to acknowledge history, by erasing the impacts of historical figures on Indigenous and African lives, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past in the future. We want to honor heroes that center our stories, and the stories of this land.
The metro area has the largest population of Indigenous peoples in the state, Detroit is the blackest city in the country, and today’s neoliberal era spells disasters for our communities; literally half of all Black wealth has disappeared following the 2008 financial crisis. After 60 years of capital flight, downtown is experiencing a “renaissance”, while poverty has increased for much of Black Detroit.
As the terrains and politics of today change, we should take time to critically examine whose stories are represented in public spaces, and reclaim the narratives of our forebears, by installing memorials of local heroes and icons who represent Indigenous or Black resistance, brilliance, and power. Together we can change our culture and our consciousness. In new awareness we can find ways to restructure those paradigms that lack equity, and create new ones that empower our own communities with the knowledge of self.
How else can I help or get involved?
Get your community organization to sign onto this movement. -> https://goo.gl/forms/rs1c6HEA0H5rvpqk1
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Send this petition to your friends, families and list serves.
Advocate that your kids schools STOP teaching false narratives about Columbus.
Call your Detroit city council member and mayor.
Find and remove statues of segregators, Indian killers, and slave holders in your own town.
Engage white supremacist rhetoric and rethink the narrative of "Western Europe" as the center of the world.
Engage your family in the suburbs about their hoarding of public funds.
Engage your family members that voted fro Trump.
Have conversation about the impact of settler colonialism and racism (antiblackness).
Educate yourself about the history of this land.
Support radical black and brown organizations such as We the People of Detroit, The Raiz Up, Detroit Black Food Security Network and many others.
Email the Raizup firstname.lastname@example.org
Today: The Raiz Up is counting on you
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