Now that Mayor Greg Fischer has decided to move the John B. Castleman and George D. Prentice statues because “Louisville must not maintain statues that serve as validating symbols for racist or bigoted ideology,” the next question is: What should replace them?
The Mayor’s Office has said that any replacement proposals will be reviewed under guidelines from the Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee and the Commission on Public Art. These include the aim to display artwork that increases “the diversity and plurality of figures and histories depicted,” as well as to “educate our residents and our visitors in an honorable but also honest way.”
For those of you not playing along at home, Castleman’s statue in the Cherokee Triangle is being removed because of his role in the Confederacy, and the one of George D. Prentice, behind the downtown library, is being taken down because he was an anti-immigrant newspaper publisher who, some say, stoked the Bloody Monday riots here 163 years ago.
We reported Aug. 15 that more than 32 memorials have been removed nationwide, most in the aftermath of the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, rally a year ago. That gathering had been organized under the guise of protesting the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Due to ongoing litigation, it still stands. In fact, few of the statues at the centers of these controversies have been replaced.
We asked all y’all a few weeks ago for your suggestions, and here is some of what you said:
“Has anyone at LEO read the entry in the 1992 Kentucky Encyclopedia regarding John Breckinridge Castleman? Wouldn’t the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington be proud to have his statue? Castleman was born there. They could tell his whole story… even his misspent youth, but the last 50 years of a life are worth considering also. It is Not a Confederate statue!” —Edwin S. Foote
“How about a Southern magnolia or another tree?” — Bernie Leeds
“Replace it with a big slab of granite and watch all progressives lose their minds trying to figure out why they are offended.” — Paulkonermann
“Leave it alone. If it offends anyone give them a pacifier.”
— Doug Hargrove
“Can we back up and take a vote of Louisvillians that would like the Castleman statue to stay right where it is?” — Maria Bardolf Eckerle
“Before the Confederate monument was sold into extended monument-hood (solving nothing) to Brandenburg, Kentucky, the Speed commissioned Brooklyn artist Nari Ward to reimagine it as an interpretive art installation to be woven into the existing elements of the African American history display. The New York Times just posted a piece on contemporary artists reimagining monuments. We purport to be an arts community. Let’s do something that educates and elevates …
— Debra Richards Harlan
“Forget the historical (hysterical) tributes. Today, we care about celebrity status, not past war idols. New, current statues could avoid most controversy and give homage to great Kentuckians. [George] Clooney astride a horse. [Johnny] Depp as a pirate protector. And of course, [Tom] Cruise in boxers, with a candlestick (in the drawing room). These got to be better than that bronze of the Fonz in Milwaukee.” — Lee Thomason
“Why do they need to be replaced?”
— Ted Franke
“Keep the horse.”
— Gina Payne Yunker