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Boston To Remove Statue Depicting Abraham Lincoln With Freed Black Man At His Feet

Historians in the News
tags: Abraham Lincoln, African American history, memorials, emancipation, public history



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A handful of people who spoke at the meeting were in favor of keeping the sculpture where it is and adding context. But, commission member Robert Freeman said he had changed his mind after listening to two mothers in another recent virtual meeting. They spoke of bringing their sons to see the sculpture. The boys immediately noticed the shirtless Black man with broken shackles on his wrists and ankles.

"And their son said, 'that statue looks like dad. And the other said it looks like me,'" Freeman said. "And then I realized that changing the inscription is not going to change the visual power of what art does. So I have changed my mind. I am for now the removal of the statue to a safe place."

Brandeis University Emeritus Professor Ibrahim Sundiata believes the sculpture belongs in a museum. He's a scholar who's written extensively on West African and African-American history. He grew up in Washington, D.C., and says he used to walk past the statue nearly every day. As a kid, Sundiata said he thought it was creepy.

"I'm for preserving this statue, which troubled my five-year-old mind, my six-year-old mind, and is still in my memory at the same time," Sundiata said. "It needs to have people talk about where the pose came from, why the statue was paid for by freed men, and basically how that pose, those attitudes continue, how this sort of white paternalism informs us."

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Read entire article at NPR

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