Days after the University of Notre Dame decided to cover murals of Christopher Columbus within its main building, the Columbus Citizens Foundation is urging the school to reconsider its decision.
The foundation has called the censorship of the 12 murals, painted by Luigi Gregori in the 1880s to illustrate the life of Columbus, as an “eradication of history.”
“We cannot understand how an institution of higher learning is willing to participate in the eradication of history in such a blatant manner,” Marian Pardo, president of the foundation said.
“Thousands of Americans of all ethnicities and races across the nation have always looked to Notre Dame as an institution dedicated to the expansion of knowledge and the recognition of the contributions of all. The University’s recent decision affirms that this trust was misplaced.”
On Sunday, university president Rev. John I. Jenkins announced the decision after consulting with the university’s Board of Fellows, in a letter addressed to its community members.
“In recent years, however, many have come to see the murals as at best blind to the consequences of Columbus’s voyage for the indigenous peoples who inhabited this “new” world and at worst demeaning toward them,” Jenkins wrote.
“For the native peoples of this “new” land, however, Columbus’s arrival was nothing short of a catastrophe. Whatever else Columbus’s arrival brought, for these peoples it led to exploitation, expropriation of land, repression of vibrant cultures, enslavement, and new diseases causing epidemics that killed millions.”
The university will preserve the murals, but not leave them on display at their current location, the president said.