Who owns America’s history? The answer will define what replaces fallen monuments.

Symbols of the Confederacy and systemic racism have become targets as many Americans push to be more inclusive in honoring the past.

During protests against police brutality last year, the defaced statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, became a screen for illuminated images of Marcus-David Peters and other African Americans killed by police. Peters, from Richmond, was shot while having a mental health crisis. Projection artists Dustin Klein and Alex Criqui have since added images of Black icons such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

Kentucky sculptor Ed Hamilton, 73, is impressively agile for a man of almost any age. On a seasonably warm fall afternoon, he easily ascends a four-foot plinth supporting a bronze statue of an enslaved man named York, who "belonged" to the famed American explorer William Clark.

Hamilton, who is showing me around Louisville—a city eerily emptied out by coronavirus realities and sustained civil unrest tied to the police killing of Breonna Taylor—has spotted a bit of gunk covering York’s right eye.

“OK, brother York, we have to keep your freedom vision clear,” Hamilton says, using a red handkerchief to dab at the eye of the monument, which looks northward toward the Ohio River from a downtown park.

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