Recently, there has been discussion about taking down the bronze statutes of Henry Hudson, Peter Stuyvesant and George Clinton on Academy Green This is a complicated issue fraught with strong feelings and powerful history, and I understand why some may claim that removing these statues is an erasure of history.
Yet for me the problem stems from the fact that these three statues are the only monuments representing our history in Kingston. There is no representation of black leaders or the black community, which has been integral to the identity of Kingston. There are no representations of the working people who actually built this city, and there are no women cast in bronze towering over us. Yes, these statues are part of our history, but they are already part of a revisionist history that excludes the contributions of those who were not white, powerful men. These three men alone gaze over us, as if they singlehandedly built this city and our civilization. They did not!
If changes are to be made to Academy Green and I believe its centerpiece should be a monument to the Esopus Lenape people, the original inhabitants of this land. Nowhere in this city is there any representation of the indigenous people who lived here for centuries. They are given no plaque, no museum, no statues. There is nothing substantial displaying, documenting or memorializing their communities, their agriculture, their tradition or culture.
That’s not a misrepresentation, that’s an erasure of history! They are not here to speak for themselves and this is their land. We should be compelled not to forget that.
John House Wilson