On Sept. 8, the Associated Press reported Loras College in Dubuque will remove its founder’s statue, Bishop Mathias Loras, from display placing it in storage after new details emerged about Loras’ slave owning past.
Right or wrong? Wrong.
When looking for an example of what not to do when negative information emerges about an important historical figure to an organization, Loras College’s response is a textbook example.
The private Catholic college acted after learning Bishop Loras owned and left a slave in Alabama contracting her labor to others and using the money earned to further Catholicism in Dubuque.
But placing the statue in storage effectively hides history, sacrificing an educational opportunity and running counter to the fundamental purpose of college. Removal allows the school to conceal an unseemly past, preserving their honorable facade while robbing students of the opportunity to learn how they are directly benefiting from slavery, 155 years after it was banned in the United States.
The right answer is to leave the statue up and on a plaque but provide a full accounting of Bishop Loras. The plaque should describe how the school addressed their founding history with the creation of a scholarship honoring the enslaved woman’s sacrifice.
Good can sprout from injustice and there is nothing immoral about venerating the positive so long as the wrong from which it came is honored as well.