This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 Cherokee Triangle Association Newsletter, published by the CTA. To view the issue in full, please click here.
Let’s talk about the Castleman statue. On August 13, one day after Charlottesville (and the statue being vandalized), Mayor Fischer directed the Louisville Commission on Public Art to review all city art that can be interpreted to honor bigotry, racism or slavery, in preparation for a community conversation about their display. On August 15, the Administration unveiled an online form to accept public comment, and COPA announced that a series of public meetings would be held to gather further input. (Also in August, the statue saw a number of protests and the Administration had the monument cleaned.)
As of this writing, however, there has only been one public meeting, September 6. According to COPA on October 20, there are “ongoing efforts in the Mayor’s Office to organize a series of community conversations. The initiative will include public art, but also a broad range of topics related to equity. Schedule and overview will be announced in the coming weeks.” That was six weeks ago.
I appreciate the Administration’s careful, deliberate and comprehensive approach to examining this citywide issue. However, as a result, the conversation in Cherokee Triangle and District 8 around the Castleman statue has stalled. It sort of started and stopped at “should it stay or should it go?” – and public opinion on that is split:
As a credit to Mayor Fischer, the online comment form was extremely well-received, generating nearly 850 submissions. Based on my analysis, respondents from zip code 40204 favored “it should stay” 53-42 (56%-44%); respondents from 40205 favored “it should go” 43-39 (52%-48%); and, together, respondents from the two District 8 zip codes favored “stay” 92-85 (52%-48%). Of course, I also received other direct feedback besides comments submitted via online form; calls to my office favored “go” 15-4 (79%-21%), for example.
No matter the ultimate outcome regarding the Castleman statue, about half of you (and probably about half the city) aren’t going to be happy. That means it’s time to move past any all-or-nothing approach to resolving this issue and move forward according to a new set of constructive questions designed to spark creative, productive answers:
If the Castleman statue is to remain in place, under what set of circumstances? If it is to be removed and replaced, where to and by what? Of the best of each of those scenarios, which is the best of the best?
I think most folks – including many who favor the statue to stay – acknowledge that change, in some form, must be part of the solution. Indeed, many good suggestions and answers to the questions posed above have already been provided by parties on all sides of the debate – and many more good options are surely out there. Let’s bring those options to the forefront of our discussion going forward so that District 8 and the Cherokee Triangle are ready to lead the rest of the city by example once the process is set.
To comment or review comments submitted to date about the Castleman statue as part of COPA’s public art review, please click here.
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Thanks very much.
Councilman Brandon Coan