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It's time to go beyond destroying statues to building new ones

8 min read
fairly difficult
CNN senior political analyst John Avlon writes that while the righteous fury of tearing down Confederate monuments around the country spreads, the country needs to shift towards erecting inclusive statues that better portray American history.
John Avlon is a senior political analyst at CNN. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.

(CNN) The righteous fury to tear down Confederate monuments has begun to stray in recent days toward a more arguably indiscriminate toppling of statues, ranging from President Ulysses S. Grant to St. Junipero Serra to George Washington and the removal of a statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the American Museum of Natural History .

We still have a lot of work to do to achieve a full and fair vision of American history. That's why we should move the national conversation from destruction to construction, from tearing down to building. It's time to embrace a new public works project to build new statues -- not simply to replace the old, but to broaden Americans' consciousness of the crucial and defining role that Americans of diverse backgrounds, particularly African Americans, have played in our history.

The following are suggestions to begin expanding our national conversation toward the more inclusive -- and therefore more accurate -- telling of American history. No list could be definitive. But this one is intended to serve as both the start of a conversation and a reminder of how deep and rich American history really is. We cannot learn the lessons of history by simply erasing it.

There are many statues to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass -- but I'd argue there can never be too many. The same could be said for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended school segregation. One of the only statues to him stood on the grounds of the Lawyers Mall in Annapolis, but it is currently in storage to make way for new construction. It should be put back in a prominent place, in the vicinity of the Supreme Court. Likewise, we should build statues to Ambassador Ralph Bunche, the first African American to win a Nobel Peace Prize back in 1950 -- one should…
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