UPDATE: The school’s president has responded to the petition. Read more here.
An online petition is calling for Columbus Catholic Schools to be renamed and the statue of Christopher Columbus in front of the high school be taken down. Organized by Ruthey Schultz ‘16, Ella Schultz ‘18, and Ada Inman ‘17, alumni of Columbus Catholic High School, the petition states that changing the name of the school is a small step, but a necessary step towards justice in the community and the country.
“Ada Inman, Ruthey Schultz, and I have been talking about presenting the idea of changing the name of Columbus Catholic High School for years,” said Ella Schultz. “However, we never knew how to bring up this conversation because we understand that it is not an easy one to have.”
In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people and People of Color, conversations about race have been occurring across the country, as stated in the petition text.
“To us, now seemed like the best time to start having this conversation that would hopefully put the school we graduated from on the right side of history,” said Schultz. “Hopefully, all of the conversations currently happening across our country about race and privilege (that have not gotten enough attention in the past) have made their way to Marshfield, Wisconsin and will help people be more open to a much needed change.”
Prior to publishing their petition, co-organizers contacted the officials at Columbus Catholic Schools to provide a heads-up. They also each individually emailed faculty/staff members with a prepared statement that expresses their reasoning for the petition and a link where those interested can sign.
From the petition:
Celebrating Christopher Columbus delegitimizes the experiences of Black and Indigenous Peoples by celebrating a man who acted in deeply racist ways and harmed many. Christopher Columbus personally enslaved and sold over 1,000 Indigenous Peoples, pillaged their communities, and murdered countless others. Instead of being named after a man who represents racism and hatred, our school should be named after someone or something representing justice and understanding— the values we promote as a Catholic school.
We understand that many members of our community feel a strong connection to the name of their school system, but it is important to recognize the hatred and pain Christopher Columbus represents for so many people. Christopher Columbus does not uphold the respect and peace that our school values, but instead symbolizes a history of racism and hatred in our country. The philosophy of Columbus Catholic Schools is to “help each student learn to appreciate and respect the rights and differences of others so that at school, at home, and in the community, they might act as true Christians who nobly grace our society with peace.” We should consider how Christopher Columbus plays a role in this philosophy as a man who directly contributed to the genocide of Indigenous and Black people in the Americas.
I have to wonder what all this may mean for a certain city in Ohio.