KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Taking a historic stride towards racial and social justice, the Jackson County Legislature moved this Monday to dismantle two controversial statues that have long stood as grim reminders of our nation’s horrific past. Both statues immortalize former President Andrew Jackson, a known slave-owner and instigator of the genocidal Indian Removal Act.
With a landslide 7-1 vote, the legislators, spearheaded by Manny Abarca, committed to a resolution seeking a professional outfit to detach and warehouse the statues currently positioned at the county courthouses in Kansas City and Independence. The specifics concerning the request for proposals and the timeline for the statues’ removal remain unclear.
The History of Resistance Against the Statue
This unprecedented decision has not come without a struggle. In the midst of the 2020 uprisings, these same statues became the canvas for the public outcry against systemic racism. Protesters fervently defaced the statues, daubing them with powerful phrases like “KKKCPD”, “Slave Owner”, and “White supremacist”. Nevertheless, the county residents voted against the removal of the statues when the matter landed on the November 2020 ballot.
The legislators, in an attempt to provide context, added plaques to the statues in 2021. These markers highlighted Jackson’s sordid past as a slave owner and his support of the Indian Removal Act, a genocidal policy forcing Native Americans to relinquish their homes for white settlers.
The plaque inscription aimed to juxtapose the memory of this oppressive past with the nation’s hope for a just future, stating in part, “This statue of Jackson reminds us we are on a path that, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., bends towards justice. In turn, we must acknowledge past injustices to help us create a greater nation built upon humane policies to light our way and the way of humanity everywhere.”
Decades in the making, this move should signify Kansas City’s commitment to wrestling with the horrors of its past and choosing progress over tradition. As the statues of Andrew Jackson are finally scheduled to descend, we witness the ascent of a city dedicated to justice and equality.