Let’s say you lived in the late 1800s, and Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth president, had just died. As the president was considered a civil war hero back then, cities around the country created and installed statues of him—San Francisco has one in its historic Golden Gate Park—and these statues continued to stand through important periods of American history.
Despite the reverence of historical figures over time, many people have started to consider the roles that each leader played in less flattering events such as colonizing America and hurting Native Americans. Recently, as #BlackLivesMatter protests grew throughout the country, people questioned historic structures and art that honored past leaders. In such acts of defiance, protesters not only destroyed the statue of Ulysses S. Grant, but also that of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the American national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and toppled a statue of Father Junípero Serra, the Spanish Mission founder in California.
Critics of the leaders believe that a statue indicates an appreciation for a person who, in reality, might not have been a perfect role model. Those who disagree with the destruction of statues believe that wiping out historic installations does not make history go away.
Question: What do you think? Should statues of imperfect leaders be allowed to stay? Or should history and art keep changing? Share your thoughts with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.