NEBRASKA CITY- Peru State College Professor Sara Crook encouraged Nebraska City leaders to consider possible locations for the J. Sterling Morton statue that has been on display among the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C., since 1937.
In 2000, Congress allowed states to select new statues and the state Legislature moved to replace Morton and William Jennings Bryan with author Willa Cather and civil rights progenitor Standing Bear.
Crook: “This is in no way a demotion of J. Sterling Morton. It’s just an opportunity for somebody else to be recognized for what they’ve done and how they represented Nebraska.”
She said the contract for the artist to create the Willa Cather statue includes the cost of taking Cather to the Capitol and returning the Morton statue to Nebraska.
If they want the Morton statue, she said city and county government should be thinking about where it would go.
County Commissioner Rick Freshman said a lightning strike has damaged a tree on the northeast lawn of the courthouse, which could open the space for the statue.
Crook said the Father of Arbor Day and the Bryan, “The Great Commoner” will be welcomed back to Nebraska with a celebration.
Crook: “I think the fact that J. Sterling Morton and William Jennings Bryan have been there for 82 years is a pretty high honor for those two. But, it is also rather laudible that Nebraska has decided to put a little bit of diversity in the U.S. Capitol. We will be the first state to have two, non-white men in the Capitol building.”
The Morton statue is made of bronze is about seven feet tall. It stands on a three-foot marble pedestal. She said the Hall of Fame Commission hopes to have the Morton statue relocated by June of 2020.
The sculpture was made by artist Rudulph Evans.