These Heroic Trailblazers Deserve Public Statues to Inspire a Better Tomorrow

Congressman John Lewis. Photo Courtesy: Pool/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and supportive countries around the world have exploded in protests following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer. Since then, an uprising for equal rights, social justice and a shift in culture at large has included the toppling of a number of historical statues. The reason? Many of our once-beloved American icons were given a pass for their racist behavior in favor of their historic contributions to the country. Not anymore.

Some statues of historical figures — including works of President and slave owner Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus and Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson — have been torn down, drowned in rivers or given a new look. Even sacred, iconic landmarks that have become international tourist attractions, like Mount Rushmore and Stone Mountain, are targets for removal. It might sound shocking to imagine the U.S. without these famous monuments, but their histories are far too terrible to ignore.

Statues and monuments should celebrate the history and heroes that we’re proud of. Tennessee had a great idea of replacing every Confederate statue with its one true hero, Dolly Parton. There’s also already a statue of Shirley Chisholm — the first Black woman to be elected for Congress and run for President — which shows there’s a positive change in culture that’s a big step forward. But we need to take things a step further, and I have several more outstanding people in mind. Let’s give a special shoutout to the game-changers, disrupters, leaders and trailblazers who deserve their own public statues.