Currently, there is a petition going around to replace the statue of Christopher Columbus in Elizabeth, NJ with a statue of Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans activist who was central in the 1969 Stonewall uprisings and who grew up in Elizabeth.
You can sign the petition here at Change.org.
According to the petition:
"Columbus is not a figure to be celebrated, as he enslaved and killed the Taino. Him and his men also sexually abused Taíno women and girls, some as young as 9 years old. He was even arrested in his own time for crimes he committed against Spanish colonists, which included flogging and executions without trial."
Whereas Marsha P. Johnson is somewhat of a legend in the LGBTQ+ community. She not only was a central figure at Stonewall — one of the most monumental moments in LGBTQ+ history — but she was a community activist that organized and created spaces for trans people during a time that was even less accepting of the community than today.
Johnson was a part of the Gay Liberation Front which was formed immediately after the Stonewall Riots in New York City. She also established Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), through which Johnson helped create a shelter for homeless, gay, and trans children.
The Black Lives Matter movement is actively working to have statues depicting confederates, racists, and colonizers removed around the country. Columbus is seen as a colonizer who is completely misrepresented in the history books and many people believe he should not be celebrated, which is exactly what a statue is doing.
Instead, the movement is to use statues to celebrate the people who have pushed the envelope in America towards inclusion and equality.
President Trump has vowed that anyone doing so will receive jail time in a tweet in late June.
I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other… https://t.co/DX7JOVidQ4— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1592909204.0
However, the protesters make a good point: why do we celebrate people who have done wrong when those who have fought for the vision of America (a place where all people can be free) are not celebrated in the same ways and are often forgotten?