California’s State Senate has approved narrowly a proposal that would replace a statue at the U.S. Capitol of Father Junipero Serra with one of the late Sally Ride, but not without some controversy.
Each state is allowed two statues in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, and California currently has Father Serra and former President Ronald Reagan. Serra, an 18th century Franciscan monk who established the mission system in California, has had his likeness placed in the hall since 1931.
His would-be statuary replacement, Sally Ride, was America’s first and youngest woman astronaut. Ride, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2012, would have the distinction of being the first woman from California in the hall as well as its first member from the LGBT community.
Critics in the California Senate have fought the proposal on a number of grounds, including its lack of “mandatory” funding from private sources and the fact that Pope Francis, who has recently discussed canonizing Father Serra, would be visiting Washington D.C. in September. Proponents of the bill contend that it would take years for the statute replacement to occur. The proposal still needs to be passed by the Assembly and signed by Governor Brown.
How do you feel about California’s statuary representatives in the nation’s capitol?
Chris Nichols, Sacramento reporter, U-T San Diego