Letters to the Editor: If Junípero Serra goes, how about a statue of the common Californian?

 The statue of Junípero Serra in the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 4.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The renowned American maestro Aaron Copland composed a stirring musical piece that he titled “Fanfare for the Common Man.” It honors those who never led armies to victory, but suffered wounds or died in battle. (“If California yanks Junipero Serra’s statue from the U.S. Capitol, who should replace him?” column, Nov. 9)

It’s a tribute to the millions who work and who create a better future for their children.

Artists should emulate that great composer and create a monument to the ordinary, the plain and simple men and women who worked, suffered and sacrificed to build California. I’d like to see the government open a competition for artists to create a dignified monument, not to glorify anyone in particular, but to honor the common Californian.


Is there anyone who’d oppose the creation of such a monument? Best of all, no one would vandalize or destroy it, or demand that it be replaced.

David Quintero, Monrovia


To the editor: While Father Junípero Serra did some good toward the Native Americans who lived in what we now call California, too much harm was done. If his statue is replaced in the U.S. Capitol, perhaps it should be of the Indigenous man Ishi.

In 1911, starving, he walked out of the wilderness into Oroville. Fame came to him as one of the last of his Yahi people. He then lived on the UC San Francisco campus and demonstrated his toolmaking and hunting skills along with speaking his native language and telling his people’s stories.

While sending a statue of Ishi to Washington would not erase the harms done to the Indigenous people of California, it could elevate their standing not only in the Capitol, but throughout the nation.

Matthew Hetz, Los Angeles


To the editor: Who should replace Serra? No one. Statuary has had its day.

We hold onto heroes who like all people have feet of clay. We cheer when other countries tear down statues we dislike.

Let it all go.

Phil Brimble, Los Angeles