Update: On June 10, 2020, the Minnesota State Capitol's Columbus statue was torn down by members of the American Indian Movement. Shortly thereafter, Prince fans launched a new petition to erect a proper monument to the Purple One in its space.
One guy, an Italian who never stepped foot in Minnesota, explored the Americas, unleashing an era of murder and enslavement. The other guy, a native Minnesotan, explored the pop music universe, collecting a war chest that includes seven Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award.
Only one of those men, Christopher Columbus, has a statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, but that could change. There's currently a petition to tear down Columbus and erect a monument to a far more rocking historical figure: Prince Rogers Nelson.
Addressed to Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature, "Replace Columbus statue at MN State Capitol with Prince Statue" has acquired 520 signatures as of Friday morning. Its rationale?
"Prince represents Minnesota values and Columbus does not."
The petition's creator, community organizer Wintana Melekin, provided more details to website Watch the Yard.
"The replacement of Columbus is about the deep history of white supremacy and colonialism in the United States and the need for Minnesota to lead the country in this moment. Plus we all know Prince is a genius and who wouldn’t pick him over Columbus anyway?"
Considering the two options -- inept, European-born seaman vs. virtuosic, homegrown music legend -- the decision seems clear. Supporters of the Prince option are offering spirited endorsements on the petition website.
"After all, Mary Tyler Moore has a statue on the Nicollet Mall. Why not Prince?" Makeda N. writes.
"Did Christopher Columbus drop a 13x platinum album? No. No he did not," Manny A. accurately points out.
If Dayton green-lights the Prince statue, City Pages humbly suggests we commission Paul Daly, the sculptor responsible for this bronze ode to Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott located in Dublin. Here's a taste, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons:
Goddamn that's cool!
It's a contentious boom time for the removal of statues celebrating dubious characters, of course, with monuments to Confederate soldiers coming down across the U.S. Read a recent City Pages op-ed -- "If we don't believe in white supremacy, take down the monuments to it " -- for more on that very subject.
For more on Prince rockin' the shit out, watch the official 1984 video for "When Doves Cry":