Story at a glance

  • A CBS tally notes that 33 statues of explorer Christopher Columbus have been removed amidst Black Lives Matter protests.
  • Columbus is often credited with discovering the Americas despite indigenous populations inhabiting the lands for thousands of years prior to European colonization.

Following the spring and summer Black Lives Matter protests and reckoning of U.S. statues and monuments with connections to racism and white supremacy, at least 33 statues of the 15th century explorer Christopher Columbus have been removed.

Columbus’s arrival in the Americas sparked centuries of colonization, genocide, slavery and racial oppression, the effects of which can still be measured in modern institutions. CBS notes that a 2019 study examining the impacts of European colonization in the Americas suggests that 55 million people in the Americas perished from 1492 to 1600.


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In response to civil rights protests, cities including Bridgeport, Conn., San Francisco and Chicago have all decided to remove Columbus statues.

Another tally indicates that about 50 statues of Confederate-affiliated historical figures have been removed from public spaces since the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in May.  

Other countries have also faced public referenda against monuments with historic connections to slavery or racial oppression; in Bristol, England, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was tossed into a nearby harbor over the summer, while in Belgium, a bust of King Leopold II was removed due to his colonization of the Congo. 


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Published on Sep 25, 2020