Andrew Jackson, the wealthy slave owner and champion of Native American genocide for whom Jackson County is named, was commonly known as “Old Hickory.” Who better to replace Old Hickory as the honoree of Jackson County than the all-time great athlete and Royals baseball star Bo Jackson, who routinely broke hickory baseball bats over his knee with ease?
This November, Jackson County residents will be tasked with determining the fate of several Jackson statues that have long adorned county buildings to honor the former president. Jackson’s legacy, which has been debated, has come under additional scrutiny as part of our nation’s public reckoning in the wake of protests that quickly spread across the country after the murders of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.
Removing the statues, which deify a murderous figure, is simply removing lipstick from a pig. It lays bare the real question we should be asking: Why is the county named for Andrew Jackson?
Whether the electorate votes to remove the statutes or not this November, what everyone must struggle with is why Jackson County honors a flawed man who has had so little to do with its history. Luckily, there is a beloved Jackson whom an overwhelming number of Jackson Countians would support honoring.
Bo Jackson’s athleticism is one of the great legends in our country’s sporting history. A human highlight reel, he excelled professionally at baseball and football and became known for his multidisciplinary expertise. The famous “Bo Knows” Nike commercial campaign played off his ability to use his physical gifts to excel at any sport thrown at him.