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A lifesize statue of Fannie Mae Duncan stands outside the Pikes Peak Center, close to where Duncan’s Cotton Club once stood, on Cascade Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs.

Importance of public art

The Gazette’s Monday editorial offering public sculptures’ end as a solution to the controversy surrounding Confederate statues, while a well-meaning try at diplomacy, is in effect, a poorly thought-out plan that would detract from culture. Public art represents a society’s values. Rather than eradicating public art to avoid future defacement or destruction, we should support public art that focuses on inclusivity and a community’s core values.

These controversial statues were erected primarily in the first two decades of last century and during the civil rights era as a means to further white supremacy. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are still over 1,700 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces across the U.S. A thriving culture, just like a thriving democracy, is fluid and reinvents itself. These sculptures are symbols, and they must come down as they are representative of the inequality the Black Lives Matter movement is pushing to eradicate.

A recent local example of inclusivity is the Fannie Mae Duncan statue at the Pikes Peak Center. Duncan, a local, black woman entrepreneur, lived her motto “Everybody Welcome!” Our community should envision more public sculptures honoring people of equal merit as Duncan. This would include noteworthy African American, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQI, women, and disabled heroes. Instead of using the excuse that sculpture does not educate, we should funnel funds into public education so children understand the importance of these individuals and into public art to create a thriving community of which we can all be proud.

Jessica Lamirand

Colorado Springs

Inspiring Father’s Day story

Thank you for the wonderful Father’s Day article on Silas Musick, the transgender father. The portrait was inspiring and important. All people need to be recognized for their true selves — their values, their strengths, their relationships, their goodness. Their sexuality, their gender identification is but a part of them — not the whole of them.

Seth Boster gently covered the bad times of coming out, trying conversion therapy, parental rejection (“The firstborn was no longer welcome at home.”) attempted suicide and recovery, with the help of unconditional love.

It is a sad fact that approximately 40% of homeless youths are LGBTQ and are in that position because of family rejection and the rate of attempted suicide is high in this population.

Parents, love your children without regard for sexuality or gender identification. To do more donate/volunteer at The Place, the homeless youth shelter, right here in Colorado Springs.

Jean Danforth

Colorado Springs

A lot of wasteful spending

Why has Colorado Springs placed bike lanes all over our city against citizens’ wishes? Why has Colorado Springs placed several traffic cameras all over our town again against our wishes? To me, that’s a lot of wasteful spending.

Former great Mayor Steve Bach took down the traffic cameras, stating it was to costly at a cost of $100,000 a camera and the cost of a officer to watch each camera. What’s wrong with the motorcycle policeman at intersections. To me again, wasteful spending.

Doug D. Evans

Colorado Springs

No right to murder history

Apparently, the U.S. isn’t the only place where activists are intent on tearing down statues and other memorials of people and events that offend their delicate sensibilities. African Rhodes Scholars at Oxford University in England have demanded the removal and destruction of the bronze statue of Cecil Rhodes, under the slogan, “Rhodes Must Fall”. This, in spite the fact that Rhodes is their benefactor in creating and funding the scholarship that permits them to be studying at Oxford. The protesters claim that Rhodes, who settled the region of southern Africa called Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), was guilty of “institutional racism.”

Lord Patten, the chancellor of Oxford, responded to these demands in a lengthy letter to The Daily Telegraph under the headline, “Oxford will not rewrite history”. While I have no need or intention to include Lord Patten’s entire letter, one paragraph stands out and bears repeating.

“Your Rhodes Must Fall campaign is not merely fatuous but ugly, vandalistic and dangerous. We agree with Oxford historian RW Johnson that what you’re trying to do here is no different from what ISIS and the al-Qaida have been doing to artefacts in places like Mali and Syria. You are murdering history.”

Whether you believe Gens. Robert E. Lee and Braxton Bragg, Christopher Columbus and other noted figures are deserving of memorialization, they are integral parts of the development of our nation. We, too, have no right to murder history.

Richard J. Toner

Colorado Springs

We’ll see who is listening

I have seen the struggles of black people for 85 years, and I am troubled by the slow progress made in their quest for equality in America.

In the 1940s and ’50s when I was growing up, segregation was accepted as the way things were. I was born and raised in an all-white community, and went to an all-white school. I had no contact with people of color.

All I ever heard about black people was negative. People who I knew and associated with thought black people were inferior. It wasn’t until I was on active military duty in the late 1950s and early ’60s that I had exposure to segregation and how degrading it is. I was stationed in Georgia at the time. During that period, many Southern people were still angry about the Civil War, and they had little use for people from the north.

We had two experiences during that time that we will never forget. We were in a grocery store and got in line to check out. The people in line ahead of us were black. As soon as we came up behind them, they immediately stepped out of line and went behind us. The other experience was when we were in Columbus, Ga., walking down the street. Black people coming toward us stepped off the sidewalk until we passed by them.

These memories will be forever burned in my mind. There has been progress made over the years, but it has been slow.

It has been said that getting people to change is like talking to a mule. You have to hit them in the head with a two-by-four to get their attention, then you can talk to them. The protests we have been seeing is that two-by-four. Now we will see who is listening.

Ray LaForest

Colorado Springs

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