Activists Push for Removal of Statue of Freed Slave Kneeling Before Lincoln

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tags: slavery, Abraham Lincoln, memorials, statues

As communities across the country reconsider statues and monuments of historical figures, protesters in Washington, D.C., are increasing calls to remove the Emancipation Memorial, a statue of a freed slave crouching before President Abraham Lincoln, after attempts in the past week to tear it down have intensified the debate over its value.

The bronze memorial in Lincoln Park dates back to 1876 and was intended to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, the executive order signed by Lincoln that ended slavery in the Confederacy. Though the funds for the memorial were raised by freed slaves, they did not have a say in what it would depict. It has long drawn controversy for the position of the freed slave at the feet of Lincoln, whose left hand hovers above the slave’s shirtless back.

The push to remove the statue comes amid a broader campaign unfolding across the country to remove or topple statues and monuments that are seen by some as honoring racist historical figures. Discussions around the Emancipation Memorial, however, have proved to be more thorny, with everyone from local residents to President Trump debating what the interaction between the two figures was intended to convey.

“The meaning is degrading,” said Marcus Goodwin, a candidate for the District of Columbia Council. “To see my ancestors at the feet of Lincoln — it’s not imagery that inspires African-Americans to see themselves as equal in this society.”

Mr. Goodwin has led calls for the memorial, also known as the Freedman’s Memorial, to be taken down through a legal process, including a petition that prompted Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat of the District of Columbia, to announce she will introduce legislation before the House of Representatives to remove the memorial.

Read entire article at The New York Times

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