The following commentary was written by Tarki Heath, Colleen Zawadski and Donna Inglima on behalf of Women of Italian and Syracuse Heritage CNY and Andy Mager on behalf of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation.
The time has come to replace Columbus.
After decades of concern from diverse community members, and increasing attention in the past several years, our city is finally in the process of replacing the Columbus statue in the center of downtown with a broader display honoring all those who have contributed to Syracuse, including Italian-Americans and the Onondaga People. Unfortunately, a small, vocal and well-funded group of Italian-Americans continue to resist the ongoing community-led changes. While total agreement on important projects is ideal, we must continue to work together based upon the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. These grounding principles have emerged from more than three years of discussions to help us build a better Syracuse for all.Syracuse.com, 10/07/2021
Syracuse has a history of standing against racism. The Jerry Rescue, and its related monument is an example of this. Interstate 81 is coming down, in large part due to recognition of the racism that tore our community apart over 50 years ago, and with a growing commitment to use this major infrastructure project to rebuild those communities which were physically and emotionally battered by this division. Replacing the monument to Columbus allows us to make amends for the racism long directed at the original inhabitants of this land, the Onondaga.