Like a lot of native Kentuckians, for better or worse, my family's story is intertwined with that of the state and region. I am part of a family that traces back to the earliest wave of European settlers in Kentucky.
In 1775 when they came with Boone into this territory, they brought with them a horrible institution that was legal in all 13 colonies at that time: African slavery.
As the nation now recognizes, it was a heinous and inhumane system that created great wealth for the nation as a whole and a small elite in particular at the cost of incalculable suffering and hardship for millions.
It took 600,000 war deaths and the near destruction of the young republic to crush it.
In Kentucky, the elite who formerly owned slaves quickly returned to financial and political prominence.
To demonstrate this regained power they romanticized a war they had lost and elevated on pedestals (literally) the figureheads who could represent their past in a glorified light.
They even used the taxes from ordinary citizens, some of whom were former slaves, to pay for this indulgence.
The postbellum stagecraft was not only a consolation prize for a local elite embittered by the war's outcome, but it served to show newly freed African-Americans that they were still powerless in their native land. An insult added to injury that has until now been unchallenged.
My family has direct personal connections to both of the statues being discussed in Cheapside Park.
John Breckinridge's father was so close to my ancestors that they named a daughter Louisiana Breckinridge Hart, born in 1803, after the purchase he helped secure with Thomas Jefferson. This woman's son became a Confederate officer who smuggled in the cash John Hunt Morgan used as a bribe for his escape from prison during the Civil War.
If anyone would seek to defend these artifacts, it would be someone like me.
But I cannot.
It sends a very confused message to our children to leave these statues in positions of honor. They have had more than their rightful share of time in prominence.
Let's keep them safely in storage with other historic artifacts that no longer represent our shared public values.
If slavery was a nearly fatal error and our national union is a cherished treasure, then these figureheads of rebellion and slavery cannot rightly stand above us in the public square.
Just as figures of Lenin and Stalin have come down in former Eastern bloc nations, so our Confederate statuary should be decommissioned from a public square that was formerly a slave market.
Instead, let's commission a wall of honor that recognizes many commendable figures with a connection to the history of Lexington and Central Kentucky.
And by all means let this exercise in cultural reconciliation not stand as a substitute for the constant work of establishing real and lasting equity among all our citizens.