As cities around the country — including Kentucky’s second-largest city — have taken steps to address controversies surrounding their Confederate statues, Louisville has been slow to make any moves regarding its own monuments.
In December of last year, Mayor Greg Fischer established the Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee, charging it with developing a set of principles for evaluating Louisville’s existing public art and monuments — including its Confederate statues.
The group has held a handful of meetings — mostly attended by white people, so far. And most of the people who comment during the meetings are also white. During a recent meeting, a University of Louisville student pointed out that certain voices are missing from the conversation.
“I want you all to remember that your community is not always here listening to you right now,” she said. “There are a lot of communities that are silent, and they feel silenced themselves.”
Most discussions have focused on the controversial John Breckinridge Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle, rather than public art in general.
Castleman was a Confederate officer during the Civil War. He also served in the U.S. Army following the Civil War and on the city’s Board of Park Commissioners for some two decades, and assisted in the founding of the American Saddlebred Horse Association.
Some say the Castleman statue is a symbol of racism and slavery, while others say it is a monument to what Castleman accomplished in the second part of his life.
Regardless, his monument continues to be vandalized.
If a city’s history can be told through its public art and monuments, what does the Castleman statue — and other Confederate monuments here — say about us? Should Louisville remove its Confederate statues like other cities have, or should they remain?
Louisville only has one public statue of a woman, and one public statue of a person of color. Should our public art be more representative of our community?
We’ll ask these questions and more during a live news special on Thursday at 1 pm. — and we want to hear from you.
Call with comments and questions during the show at (502) 814-TALK or tweet your questions @WFPLNews. You can also catch the conversation on Facebook live, and in a rebroadcast Thursday night at 8, on 89.3 WFPL.