Letters to the Editor: Give Junipero Serra's place in Statuary Hall to Thomas Starr King

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VENTURA, CA - JULY 23: The empty stand in front of Ventura City Hall that held the bronze statue of Father Junipero Serra who founded nine Spanish missions in California including Mission San Buenaventura. The monument, originally commissioned in the 1930s but replaced in 1989 with a bronze replica was removed by the city in the early pre dawn hours of Thursday July 23, 2020. Ventura City Council voted last week to remove the statue on public property and put it into storage until it can be placed at the Mission Buenaventura. The move comes after a Father Serra statue was toppled weeks ago on Olvera St. in downtown Los Angeles. Ventura City Hall on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in Ventura, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
A stand that held a statue of Junipero Serra before it was removed in 2020 is protected by fencing in front of Ventura City Hall on July 23, 2020. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I read with interest your articles about the renaming of sites honoring Father Junipero Serra and the removal of public statues of him.

Your article failed to mention that one of California's two statues in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall is of Serra. Perhaps its fate will be the same as that of Thomas Starr King, whose likeness in the Capitol was replaced by a statue of Ronald Reagan.

Frankly, it would be a fine gesture if Starr King's statue was returned to the Capitol, where his legacy of support for national unity before the Civil War could be re-appreciated. Since that war, the need for unity in the Capitol and across this land has never been greater.

Richard Stanley, Los Feliz

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To the editor: Another candidate to replace Serra's name might be Toypurina, the Indigenous medicine woman who was an organizer and leader of the 1785 San Gabriel Mission revolt.

The fact of that revolt challenges the fiction of placid Indigenous people happily toiling in sugar cube missions and replaces it with a recognition of Tongva anger about Spanish land theft, Spanish enslavement of Indigenous people, and growing Spanish destruction of Indigenous culture.

Toypurina's name on that park would recognize the courage of California's Indigenous Joan of Arc while it would direct our attention to the facts of Spanish colonialism in California.

Brian Roberts, Covina

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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