When Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced that the statue of Christopher Columbus outside City Hall would be removed, residents of Ohio’s capital started a petition to take the movement one step further.
Thousands are fighting to erase the city’s connection with Christopher Columbus — including the city name — and are advocating for it to be changed to Flavortown in honor of Columbus native Guy Fieri.
As protests have continued through the month of June in response to the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the numerous Black people who have lost their lives to police brutality, statues like the one of Columbus are being torn down. Columbus is responsible for years of cruelty towards Indigenous people.
“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past,” Mayor Ginther said in a statement.
32-year-old Tyler Woodbridge didn’t consider the statue removal to be enough.
“Even though it’s my favorite city, I was always a bit ashamed of the name,” Woodbridge told CNN.
As of June 23, almost 50,000 people have signed.
Woodbridge didn’t select the Flavortown name to be funny. Fieri has a track record of doing incredible charity work — like when he put on a dinner for 3,000 first responders in 2018 in response to the Las Vegas mass shooting or when he dropped everything to serve evacuees and firefighters amid the 2017 wildfires in California. Recently, Fieri helped raise more than $20 million for restaurant workers during the pandemic. He’s even officiated more than 100 LGBTQIA+ weddings.
“That kind of optimism and charitable work embodies more of what Columbus, Ohio, is about rather than the tarnished legacy of Christopher Columbus,” Woodbridge said.
The petition even caught the eye of Budweiser, who tweeted that they’d give free Bud Light Seltzer to every resident of Flavortown if the name change actually happens.
Even if Flavortown doesn’t work out, Woodbridge just hopes the city changes its name from Columbus.
“We as a culture in America are waking up to how bad of a person he was,” Woodbridge said. “Now is the time for progressiveness. It’s a time for change.”
For more stories on people doing good in the world, check out this profile on a woman who provides book bags and mental health classes to kids in the Dominican Republic.
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