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Statues Like Columbus in Schenley Park Are ‘Not The Best Way’ To Teach History, Says Pitt Professor

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll
90.5 WESA News
The Pittsburgh Art Commission plans to meet today to discuss the future of Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park.


On today's program: The Pittsburgh Art Commission will consider the fate of the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park; the Delta Foundation, which has organized Pittsburgh Pride since 2007, plans to dissolve; and access to COVID-19 tests and results are still an issue.

The art commission to meet virtually, discuss removal of Christopher Columbus statue
(00:00 — 9:02)

The Pittsburgh Art Commissionwill discuss the future of the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park later today. Critics of the statue say Christopher Columbusshouldn’t be commemorated because he and his crew were responsible for the enslavement and deaths of indigenous people. People who oppose the removal of the Columbus statue and others like it say they preserve history.

Statues are not the best way to actually teach people about the past, saysKirk Savage, a professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of “Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape.”

“Very rarely does a statue really embody history in any kind of accurate or responsible way,” he says, noting that statues can be a “reflection of harm” done to indigenous people and a “glorification of the act of conquest.”

The art commission willmeet virtually today at 2 p.m. to discuss removing the monument and hear public comment.

Trans YOUniting, PGH LGBTQ Coalition to oversee Pittsburgh Pride in 2021
(9:06 — 13:22)

The Delta Foundation, which has organized Pittsburgh Pride since 2007, plans to dissolve. Members said without the revenue from the 2020 celebration, the organization didn’t have the money to continue.

But it wasn’t just finances that plagued the organization, says 90.5 WESA digital editor and reporterKatie Blackley. There were issues with diversity and representation within the group and at its annual event. Some criticized the foundation for curating its annual Pride week celebrations to a narrow segment of affluent and white gay people, leaving out some of the transgender and non-binary people of color who historically stood up for equality.

“A lot of people I spoke with who are Black or non-cisgender say they never really felt like they were welcomed there,” says Blackley.

Trans YOUniting and the PGH LGBTQ Coalition say they will oversee the festival and parade in June 2021, and plan to make the events more inclusive, as well as “accessible and affordable.”

COVID testing still takes weeks, isn’t always available
(13:26 — 17:47) 

Allegheny County’s daily reports of new COVID-19 cases include positives from tests submitted days or weeks prior. Recently the time it takes to get a test back has improved because fewer people are seeking tests. But 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden reports availability is still an issue.


The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
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