On Lincoln Statue: We must listen to marginalized voices

The Lincoln Statue is a staple of the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus. It has been around since before our Student Union was even on the top of the hill, meaning the statue has been here for close to a century. 

However, with growing concern on what that statue represents, the campus has begun to look into whether or not it should remain a mainstay in our most heavily trafficked building.

The concerns over the Lincoln Statue are most often not arguing against Lincoln’s more well known achievements during the Civil War, rather, the concerns come over why it is located in Mankato. 

The biggest thing that ties our 16th president to our community was his actions in the hanging of the 38 Sioux, which is the largest execution in American history. 

This situation certainly parallels, yet simultaneously flips the debate of the removal of confederate statues from the south. 

The irony, of course, hails from the fact that statue removal is most targeted at those who opposed Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, yet now, the magnifying glass has been turned onto the “Great Emancipator”. 

As the University goes to review the choice and placement of the Lincoln Statue, there are several things that need to be considered.

The first of which is the tradition and history that the statue has had on our campus. Many alumni will look at this statue with fond memories of college hijinks. One such tradition was stealing the head off of the statue and returning it days later. 

The single most important thing for the University to consider is what the statue represents to it’s students. 

For most students, the statue is simply that, a statue. In fact, almost all incoming freshmen look at the statue on their campus visits and ask their guides what importance Honest Abe has on the University. The answer is often something short, such as, “He has just always been there”. 

However, to those students whose voice may be in the minority, that statue represents a president who ordered a massive execution of Indigenous people. 

These are the people that we need to be listening to. 

Whether or not the University chooses to keep, relocate, or remove the statue entirely, there needs to be a cohesive understanding of what the statue represents to the student body, with a large emphasis on those who come from ancestry related to the situation. 

The voices of Indigenous people are clearly in the minority, yet they are the most affected by this statue. 

This is why it is imperative for us to listen and amplify their voices and hear what they have to say, because to some, the statue is just a statue, but to them, it is much worse than that. 

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