FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — An online petition is circulating, asking for the removal of the Mohandas Gandhi statue from Fresno State’s Peace Garden.
“I want to raise awareness about a prominent South Asian figure, Gandhi, and his racist remarks,” Akhnoor Sidhu said Wednesday.
Sidhu said because of her upbringing, she was taught many things about Gandhi most children are not, and lays them out in her petition.
She alleges he called for the segregation of blacks, and used derogatory terms towards them. She said he’s now glorified, but in reality he was deeply prejudiced.
“As a member of the Punjabi Sikh community and the South Asian community it’s very important to just stand by the black community and take down a statue of of someone who has perpetuated racism,” she said.
Since the death of George Floyd a number of statues and monuments some find offensive have been taken down across the country.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro responded with a statement:
“The Fresno State Peace Garden was established 30 years ago as a student-led initiative in support of peace and nonviolent activism. The statues erected in the garden over the years are tributes to a diverse group of individuals who dedicated their lives in the pursuit of equality, social change and justice through peaceful methods. The garden reminds us all that change is possible, and that the fabric of society is greatly strengthened when individuals have the courage to stand up for a just cause.
All four individuals recognized in the Fresno State Peace Garden — Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Jane Addams — embodied the spirit of peaceful and constructive activism. This transcendent quality is what the garden memorializes. It does not necessarily honor every facet of their lives.
We applaud those who call for a clear-eyed look at history and the individuals who shaped it. We also urge everyone to consider carefully the overall significance of each individual’s lasting contribution to a just and fair society. On that basis, we believe those we honor in the Fresno State Peace Garden occupy an important place in history and should continue to guide us in promoting courage, social justice and tireless efforts to make the world a better place.”Fresno State President Joseph Castro
In the fall, Sidhu will be a senior at San Joaquin Memorial High School. She said Fresno State is one of the top colleges on her list, but hopes her petition brings change.
“For a campus, which is home to so many people of color, it’s very important to recognize and just unpack the prejudices that historical figures hold,” she said.