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Christopher Columbus Statue To Stay In Tower Grove Park

The Christopher Columbus statue will remain in Tower Grove Park.
The Christopher Columbus statue will remain in Tower Grove Park.
The Christopher Columbus statue will remain in Tower Grove Park.
Credit Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio
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The Christopher Columbus statue will remain in Tower Grove Park.

The Christopher Columbus statue, which has generated controversy because of the explorer’s treatment of Native Americans, will not be removed from Tower Grove Park. 

The St. Louis park instead will add signs and markers near the statue explaining the historical context of Columbus, colonization, as well as the history of the park, according to a Facebook post Wednesday

“We will be putting context around it, so that it can be utilized as a conversation starter,” said Park Executive Director Bill Reininger. “But it goes beyond just a statue. We’re also working with Native Americans in order to find a way to recognize them and to celebrate the land as well.”

In 2018, the Tower Grove Park Board of Commissioners created an advisory task force, which included representatives of the Osage and Cherokee nations, other Native American tribes, the Hill Business Association, the Hill Neighborhood Association, Black Lives Matter, the Missouri Historical Society, the National Park Service and the St. Louis Art Museum.

The task force examined the park’s history in relation to the statue, as well as Columbus’ overall effect on Native Americans. It also gathered feedback through online surveys and park visitors and received roughly 600 responses.

Reininger said the views were mixed.

“When the statue commission met last year, it was more of an openness to hearing everybody’s opinions,” he said. “The overall public opinion of the statue varies. So there’s not been a consensus communitywide on actions or the significance of replacement of that statue.”

Chris Singer helped organize an effort last year for the removal of the statue, saying in part that Columbus’ treatment of Native Americans should not be celebrated.

“A statue to a person is an act of glorifying that person in some respect,” Singer told St. Louis Public Radio last year. “What Christopher Columbus represents, and what he did to the Taino people, is not something that needs to be glorified.”

Singer could not immediately be reached for comment about the statue staying.

While there is not a specific timeline for when the signs will be added, Reininger said the park is working with the Native American community and others on accurate wording as well as future plans to include their history in the park.

The statue was dedicated on Oct. 12, 1886, by its sculptor, Ferdinand von Miller.

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Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson joined the KRCU team in November 2015 as a feature reporter. She was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri where she grew up watching a lot documentaries on PBS, which inspired her to tell stories. In May 2015, she graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Convergence Journalism. Marissanne comes to KRCU from KBIA, where she worked as a reporter, producer and supervising editor while covering stories on arts and culture, education and diversity.
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson joined St. Louis Public Radio October 2017 as the afternoon newscaster and as a general assignment reporter. She previously spent time as a feature reporter at KRCU in Cape Girardeau, where she covered a wide variety of stories including historic floods, the Bootheel, education and homelessness. In May 2015, she graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Convergence Journalism. She's a proud Kansas City, Missouri native, where she grew up watching a ton of documentaries on PBS, which inspired her to tell stories. In her free time, she enjoys binge watching documentaries and anime. She may or may not have a problem.