Indianapolis is in the midst of a war of minds over a proposed slave sculpture dubbed “E Pluribus Unum,” which, translated from Latin to English reads, “Out of Many, One.” Ironically, since this proposed sculpture only depicts one race – African-Americans – showing a negative stereotypical image of a dejected Black man right out of slavery, many are now openly wondering “why?” and wondering if Indianapolis is ready for a real “Unum” or oneness.
So far this “E Pluribus Unum” statue continues to divide Indianapolis along racial lines, not unite us. Thus the title to this article: “Is ‘E Pluribus Unum’ in Indy a myth?”
A study of America’s first use of the motto “E Pluribus Unum” only intensifies this divisive conversation. The original intent of this motto was to address uniting Europeans from England, Ireland, Holland, Germany, France and Scotland. No Africans, Native Americans; not even Spanish speaking people were of the E Pluribus. People of color were excluded from “the many.”
The Qur’an states: “But many do mislead (men) by their appetites unchecked by knowledge.” The Bible clearly states, “My people perish from a lack of knowledge.” It is sad, very sad, when many African-Americans have not yet learned history – any history – from an African-American viewpoint. This cultural and historical learning void increases when it comes to African-American youth. Still our worldview of history, even our own African-American history, is a view dominated by the likes and dislikes of non-African-Americans – namely white American hegemony.
African-Americans praise the many achievements we have been blessed to achieve as a people, but our souls instinctively reject any effort to return us to the horrific days of unnatural servitude. The natural urge in every human being to resist and fight any form of domination is a gift from our Creator. We must resist this proposed E Pluribus Unum slave statue which has drawn a racially-charged historical and cultural battle line.
The slave statue that is being promoted by the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) will cost $350,000. A 15-foot tall half-naked African-American sitting on his behind – with no shoes or shirt and his ragged back unfinished – is the image of African-Americans that CICF wishes to present to Indianapolis. Strangely, this same slave image already exists on the west side of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Is not one slave image in Indianapolis enough?
Citizens Against Slave Image (CASI) (www.wix.com/1slave_enough/inindy) is against this attempt to portray African-Americans in a dejected state. Especially since we have given our whole lives towards the betterment of Indianapolis. So we must ask the question: Is “E Pluribus Unum” in Indy a myth? Is the African-American still not valued as one of the many? Are we still – in 2011 – to accept an inaccurate image that says we are to wait for some other race or entity to determine our fate while we sit on our behinds shirtless and shoeless?
Historically and culturally, Indianapolis African-Americans have left honorable marks of achievements. The list is too long to name them all, but we can’t forget Julia Carson, Sam Jones, Rev. Mozel Sanders, Oscar Robinson, Madame C.J. Walker or Dr. John Morton Finney. They were not shiftless, shirtless and shoeless human beings. They stood tall and mighty in ways that continue to make Indianapolis a great city.
Yet the battle line unnecessarily remains because apparently some people don’t see African-Americans as one of the many.
Mayor Greg Ballard has spoken against having this slave image placed at the City-County Building. Congressman André Carson and state Rep. William Crawford have spoken publically against this slave image. City-County Councilman Duke Oliver continues to publicly criticize creating any type of slave image. Rev. C.L. Day, the president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis is actively involved against the fabrication of a slave monument. Still, the battle line remains. Why? Because we (CASI) really wonders: Is “E Pluribus Unum” in Indy a myth?
Send comments to Al-Islam in America, c/o Imam Mikal Saahir, Nur-Allah Islamic Center, 2040 E. 46th St. Indianapolis, IN 46205; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.