A few thousand Minnesotans — and counting — have signed a petition to replace a Christopher Columbus statue at the State Capitol with royalty.
Progressive activist Wintana Melekin started the petition Aug. 27. “Rather than glorify a man who wanted to extinguish black and native peoples, we should honor members of our community whose leadership we find inspirational,” she wrote.
Prince, the petition said, brought people together, unlike Columbus. Prince preached peace, love and understanding, and advocated social justice in many of his lyrics, but he wasn’t a governor or a political force in the traditional sense.
Don’t add the Capitol statue to the Prince tour itineraries just yet. The late icon may have set the rules at Paisley Park, but the process for changing the Capitol grounds is neither simple nor swift. The current renovation was decades in planning by the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board in coordination with governors and the Legislature. When monuments are involved, the board coordinates with the Minnesota Historical Society in design, planning and execution.
The board doesn’t consider erecting statues until a person has been dead for a decade, said Paul Mandell, its executive secretary. The other critical requirement is that the person be of statewide significance. Mandell didn’t rule out Prince eventually rising on the grounds, but said someone would have to drive the effort and raise the money before the board would consider the request.
If Prince eventually gets the go-ahead, he would likely join the late Vice President Hubert Humphrey, civil rights leader Roy Wilkins and pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh on John Ireland Boulevard, Mandell said.
Nonetheless, one has to wonder which version of Prince would rise among the staid statesmen. He’d certainly complement the flashy gold quadriga atop the building and his likeness could be at home next to the late Gov. Floyd B. Olson, the Depression-era Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party leader with a legendary reputation for carousing.
Would he be at — or on — a piano? Would he be intensely playing a guitar, grabbing a mic or dancing? Would he have an Afro, curls or a closely cropped head of hair? He might be wearing his three-lens glasses.
The many provocative versions of Prince are more amusing to ponder.
He could be portrayed with the word “slave” on his face as he once appeared in protest of his record label. Maybe a young Prince from his “Dirty Mind” days would stand firm in his stage uniform of those days: underwear and an open coat.
Or the statue could shed the clothes altogether and appear strategically naked as the artist did on the cover of his “Lovesexy” album.
Statues have engraved plaques and Prince’s could feature his deliriously racy lyrics or “I would die 4 u.”
The petition is at: http://tinyurl.com/ybx2bjzz
The 10-foot tall bronze Columbus statue was a gift from the state’s Italian-American community. It was dedicated in October 1931 and restored in 1992. Mandell said the board has never had a request to remove a statue, although descriptive plaques have been edited at times.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747