Breonna Taylor

A ground mural depicting a portrait of Breonna Taylor is seen at Chambers Park in July in Annapolis, Md. Taylor was among nominations made for President Donald Trump’s planned National Garden of American Heroes.

The Associated Press

George Floyd. Sacagawea. The guy who invented air conditioning.

Americans’ suggestions of suitable statues for President Donald Trump’s planned National Garden of American Heroes are in, and they look considerably different from the predominantly white worthies that the administration has locked in for many of the pedestals. The outside nominations are more activist, browner and far more indigenous.

Well, for the most part, anyway. The administration also is leaving open the possibility of a statue of Trump himself in the Trump-created statue park after receiving what it said were “multiple nominations” of the president.

Trump ordered up the statue park during a Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore, and set up a task force on a 60-day deadline to get the idea going. He also mused in a tweet that it would be a “good idea” to carve his own face into that memorial.

The task force charged with executing Trump’s vision – with all of the publicly listed members white — says it sent out thousands of requests to state and local officials for suggestions, both for possible sites around the country and for heroes to honor. Its findings are due to be given to Trump by Tuesday.

Many of the nominations stand in stark contrast to the list the Trump administration came up with, which mandated inclusion of a few dozen mainstream and conservative figures, from John Adams to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and a few other Black leaders made the Trump administration’s hero list, but not anyone known for their Native American, Hispanic or Asian heritage.

Suggestions from many Republican governors, by contrast, were heavy with civil rights leaders, while many local officials pushed for a broader definition for what it means to be a hero.

When Denver-area Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas got the solicitation for nominations, “For me and my fellow commissioners, it was immediately a unanimous decision.”

They urged the task force to consider a statue to Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old high school senior shot to death last year while lunging at a gunman in his British literature class. Eight people were wounded in the attack in suburban Denver by two student gunmen at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Commissioner Amy Zanelli, meanwhile, suggested George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans whose killings by police sparked massive street protests.

The summer protests also spun off a debate over statues around the country honoring slave-holders and Confederates. Trump deployed federal forces to protect those monuments from protesters, embracing their defense as a law-and-order issue as he seeks re-election.

Floyd and the others “have shaped the future of America by finally bringing the systemic racial injustices present in our policing to the forefront of politics,” Zanelli wrote.

Most governors, including almost every Democrat, dismissed the Trump administration’s request for suggestions, according to the Interior Department’s website on Friday afternoon. It’s the latest example of governors ignoring White House requests — ranging from statues, to school openings to nursing homes testing — amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump administration said it received “robust, bipartisan responses” from around the country.

The list of heroes submitted by Republican governors included some obvious choices — civil rights hero Rosa Parks; Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice; and Sacagawea, the Lewis and Clark expedition’s indispensable guide — that stick out for their lack of inclusion in Trump’s list.

Prominent Native Americans highlighted some state and local nominations.

Favorite sons and daughters little known outside their borders also made the cut — a National Rifle Association president, Harry Truman’s vice president, air conditioner inventor Willis Carrier.

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