Statues, This is What We Stand For?: A Louisville Documentary by Morgan Atkinson
Systemic racism… white privilege… who or what determines the truth…what do communities choose as symbols? These are the social issues examined in Statues, another in the series written and produced by Morgan Atkinson examining his hometown of Louisville. This hour-long documentary considers America’s current state of intense polarization through the lens of seven public meetings that took place in Louisville between 2017-2019. (In addition to the meetings and their aftermath, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well the extensive unrest sparked by police violence is considered).
The purpose of the meetings was to determine what is appropriate public art for the community. Though the meetings took place throughout Louisville ultimately every meeting returned to the question of what to do about the statue of General John B. Castleman standing in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood. Is the statue a Jim Crow era tribute to a racist traitor or a fitting salute to a man who made significant contributions to the community? As the “Castleman question” is examined it becomes obvious this is not your standard “Lost Cause” issue.
The tension between acknowledging/embracing new cultural norms and determining what is an accurate historical record is palpable. Statues doesn’t choose a side but allows the various points of view to be presented. As in the the classic film “Rashomon” it becomes obvious that one person’s sense of the truth does not always resonate or correspond with others. In the end it is up to the viewer to decide in this compelling portrait of a community that has been called the epicenter of the issues that are dividing our country.