Alexander Macomb's bronze likeness stands in a grassy median on Washington Boulevard, across from the Westin Book Cadillac, his gaze directed toward Michigan Avenue, hands clasped at his waist, one foot forward. A contemplative pose for a man who was once the biggest landowner in the Detroit region.
He -- and his family -- also owned slaves, the most of any family in Michigan. And today, one of his direct descendants, Kyle Alexander de Beausset of Grosse Ile, says it's time to close one chapter and start another for his bronze great-great-great-great-grandfather.
Writing in the Free Press, de Beausset contends:
Our family tree is brimming with Alexanders, Alexandrines, and Alexandras. I like to see each of our names as prayers echoing through the generations: that each of us might be better than the last — ridding ourselves of the bad, building on the good, making way for the new.
In that spirit, I’d like to offer another prayer: that we might stop needlessly clinging to the irredeemable symbols of our past. The statue of my fourth great-grandfather Gen. Alexander Macomb is one of them. It's time to find a new home for the statue of Gen. Alexander Macomb.
...ignoring our nation's past has allowed it to fester and burst. Until white people are able to effectively confront our colonialist and racist history head-on, I don’t think any of us will ever truly be free.
de Beausset contends that "we’ve got to find a way to tell these stories and this history in a way that honors the contributions, courage, and suffering of all," and his ancestor's statue doesn't do that.