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

Emancipation Memorial has stood in Park Square since 1879. It is a version of the original, in Washington, D.C., which was funded by formerly enslaved people but designed without their input.

7/2/2020 6:20:00 AM

Boston officials have voted to remove a copy of Thomas Ball's sculpture 'Emancipation Memorial,' which has stood since 1879 and depicts a formerly enslaved man kneeling before Abraham Lincoln. '

Emancipation Memorial has stood in Park Square since 1879. It is a version of the original, in Washington, D.C., which was funded by formerly enslaved people but designed without their input.

Jesse Costa/WBURtoggle captionJesse Costa/WBURBoston officials have decided to remove the sculpture Emancipation Monument which has stood in Park Square since 1879. It depicts a formerly enslaved man kneeling before Abraham Lincoln.Jesse Costa/WBURMembers of the Boston Art Commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening to remove Boston's copy of Thomas Ball's sculpture Emancipation Memorial from Park Square. The work depicting a formerly enslaved man at the feet of Abraham Lincoln has stood there since 1879.

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As with Confederate memorials around the country, this sculpture has been controversial for years. The original in Washington, D.C., was funded by formerly enslaved people, but designed without their input.Thecommissionheard nearly two hours of public comment for and against removal.

Boston artist Tory Bullock said the sculpture is a whitewashed portrayal that denigrates an entire group of people."This is a frozen picture. This man is kneeling, he will never stand up," Bullock said."This image is problematic because it feeds into a narrative that Black people need to be led and freed. A narrative that seems very specific to us for some reason. Why is our trauma so glorified?"

A Howard University student and Massachusetts resident named Hannah Bessette called the statue demeaning."Regardless of what the intentions were," she said,"It is important to note the intentions were white based intentions. As it was a white created statue."

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.

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"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."

Commission Vice Chair and artist Ekua Holmes says she imagines the newly emancipated people who funded this sculpture would have chosen different imagery for themselves, if they'd had the choice. Something more aspirational, more self-determining, she said. Something timeless.

"Public art is storytelling at the street level. As such, the imagery should strike the heart and engage the mind," Holmes said."...What I heard today is that it hurts to look at this piece, and in the Boston landscape we should not have works that bring shame to any groups of people, not only in Boston but across the entire United States."

The city hasn't decided where to store the statue and what will replace it. Read more: NPR »

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Ridiculous. The freed slaves chose this symbolism bc they were grateful to Lincoln. Though they were down & shackled, they could now begin to RISE. This is just like liberal white people to tell freed blacks how they should & shouldn't feel about emancipation. SHAME ON BOSTON! Then what is Welfare ? The Conservatives would rather he rid up and become his own independent person

Replace it with the statue of Maury holding a DNA test report and a black man dancing crazy and 'you are not the father' motto engraved at the foundation. So erasing a memorial to the man who died so you could live free, erasing the memory of all those patriots who died to give you the life and liberty long denied you by the treasonous south is something being viewed as positive by the poc community? :/

Seems to me a better representation of Lincoln’s work would be standing tall & shaking hands as equals not a permanent expression of subjugation. Lincoln was not a diety to be bowed to. We do not bow to presidents, they are elected representatives, not royalty, not pharaohs. 155 years later, the Confederates have taken over Boston.

Y do ppl kneel at sports then I know what I see, but don't know what others see. Question of taking down because it offends or emotionally upsets some people. I also get offended and emotionally upset when I see statue or symbol of man being crusified on a cross. Should we force them be removed? Take it down. Then build a statue of Japanese, former slaves, and the indigenous holding America on its back....

Plus hand above head, which frankly is pretty hardcore. That's a very good question! 2020 Funny.....white liberals think they need to lead blacks to success. White liberals think black Americans can't succeed on their own. Also, know shit statues are frozen in time. Does not change what it represents, which is black Americans being freed from slavery.

That is ridiculous! This statue captures a beautiful moment in time when Lincoln is gesturiing to an emancipated slave to rise up!! Lincoln gave his life to free the slaves, I think he deserves a statue commemorating that moment!!! Cool, now do the one in DC I walk by this statue every day and had always found it off-putting, it makes Lincoln look like god or something.

We better be taking down Martin Luther KING moments street names everything I am just waiting for Philly to remove the Rocky Balboa statue because he beat Apollo Creed in Rocky II. Shall we just burn everything down, and let the strong clean and organize the mess? Democrats opposed Lincoln for wanting to free the slaves

IT’S A STATUE! OF COURSE IT’S FROZEN! ARE YOU COMPLETE IDIOTS OR ONLY SOMEWHAT?!?! So, what, they’d rather the slaves never be freed? They where freed, and it was white men who fought and died for their freedom. Slavery should have been abolished at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Yet another 78 years of white silence by the U.S. government occurred... 😠

I'm conflicted on this one...although I'm inclined to agree with the perception of the black community. My race isn't depicted as begging for freedom. Tear it down! But the statute captures what was not what is. Americans need to step back and think this is not answer. Do we remove Indians? Do we remove the President’s oof any kind? They have bad past? Offensive

Looks like it was influenced by this popular image from abolition circles. It’s time to update. It is the classification of races and genera. Black, Arab, Muslim, poor, sick, stupid ... are ranked last. The classification is exercised by everyone: black with black, white with white ... etc. Lastly, everyone thinks they are superior: After me the deluge.

Это классификация рас и родов. Черные, арабские, мусульманские, бедные, больные, глупые ... занимают последнее место. Классификация осуществляется всеми: черный с черным, белый с белым ... и т. Д. Наконец, все думают, что они превосходят: После меня потоп. Unshackled, yet still subservient, kneeling at Lincoln's feet, in his proverbial 'place' that America quickly reminds a Black person of when they dare to assert themselves. The statue reflects Lincoln's POV: there should be no social or political equality.

GoodWinForDC 🙌👏👏 Now just pulling for DC! 'Members of the Boston Art Commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening to remove Boston's copy of Thomas Ball's sculpture Emancipation Memorial from Park Square,' after hearing nearly 2 hrs of public comment advocating for removal. Who is right? Perception is art. Art is perception.

It's symbolic idiots Come on folks, this should be obvious. The man is not Lincoln's dog, he is a man. I understand who funded this, but I imagine they were shell-shocked and suffering PTSD. I was born on the same day as Abe, I've always had an affinity. I am certain he would agree, take it down. Ask the freed the slaves who paid for the original statue that this is replicated from.

Perhaps the Left think history can be 'changed' for the better. Erasing the 'freeing' of slavery from the American history is effectively denying the existence of slavery - quite an opposite effect, no, racist ? They were slaves. They did need to be freed you idiots I thought kneeling was a good thing 😂🤣😂🍿🍿🍿

Public art is shit, remove all of it. In my heart, I believe that Abraham Lincoln would have never allowed himself to be in the pose. Remove it. It needs to go and conveys a master to pet dynamic to it. When you don't teach history in schools, when you eliminate debate and critical thinking and when 90% of the American media is owned by 4 conglomerates (that are now calling for censorship and editing of history) this is the sort of ignorance you get. DefundNPR

'why is our trauma so glorified?' I've asked myself this question a lot after hearing rap music. Glorifying drug dealing, murder, gang membership, domestic violence, addressing one another as n*gger, pimping women, and the obsession of billionaires like Buffet and Trump. The statue is complicated, it was commissioned by freed slaves but an all white committee made the decision on the final design. Even back then figures like Frederick Douglas had issue with the slave being on his knees and it's implications.

That is demeaning. Switch the sides and see how you feel about it. Only black people should decide about statues like this. funded by freed black slaves...nice! erase their history This is insanity! I’ll buy it right now. $100 Hew NPR, talk about science. Talk about this: New Zealand did what the scientists told them to do, not the rich corporate capitalists...and hardly anyone died and the virus was swept out...

It’s quite hypercorrection. Very problematic... I’ve actually never understood this statue. He freed them to be equals. They should be standing side by side as equals. They still do ironically This piece was funded by freed slaves. Now todays society is telling them what to think. Art is only to be judged by those who want to destroy it? Stop the nonsense.

BLM is a terrorist organization!!! Should the statue be removed? Im proud of that statue. Can I put it in my house since they don't seem to appreciate it anymore? They want to erase the emancipation? The family of the man rising up from his shackles are very proud of this statue and what it represents. A freed woman donated her first five dollar earnings to build a statue commemorating Lincoln emancipating the slaves. This is that statue.

I’ll have it shipped to my house where it will be appreciated. Lol you do realize that freed slaves bought and paid for the statue right? Pretty disrespectful BS He's not kneeling, he's standing up. Get it right Democrats still mad we took away their slave now try to remove all statues that remind them of it.

“Boston Officials” … You mean politically correct smug liberal assholes Abraham Lincoln was the worst, racist man to ever walk the earth. AND he was a Republican. Tear down everything related to (dis)honest Abe! So art should be only interpreted by those who want to destroy it. Got it. Someone has declared war on America’s history and culture and our leaders comply with it.

Didn't the Nazis do stuff like this? You must be so happy! kerremptycross Gratitude is so misunderstood. I guess taking the knee is not for everyone huh. Lincoln told him to get up and to 'Kneel only to God'. Good advice for all of us in these times. DefeatTheMob If he was kneeling, he'd have his forearm across his thigh, & would probably have his head bowed. From those in the know, he's in the process of rising.....

We just gonna ignore the fact that it was a statue paid for by former slaves who were rejoicing in their freedom? For Pete’s sake, people, take some time to learn about this statue and the original. Also who says there going to destroy it? Just put it in a museum, We have just way too many statues for unnecessary things in this nation, I understand remembering history but at this point it’s glorification...

It’s too bad we fund you and you can’t be bothered to give the historical context. DefundNPR Does know one bother to learn history anymore? Lincoln is posed holding a scroll representing the Emancipation Proclamation, while a slave, haven broken his chains, is RISING from his knees. It is the act of emancipation. It was commissioned & paid for by former slaves.

Is it true when you become a Democrat you have to forfeit your balls? so .... freeing slaves is racist? who knew! liberallogic The home if Patrick Henry? Oh we ARE doing his words now for sure! American Taliban! IDIOTS NPR & the other entities supporting this behavior will one day be removed from relevancy

“Kneeling before Abraham Lincoln.” What garbage journalism is this, , and what am I paying for you to exist To me it looks like a man breaking his chains and arising. He is not on his knees. But I suppose today's audience would feel uncomfortable looking at it, so I suppose it is better off in a museum, where people can choose to view it.

Another unbiased article from NPR. It was a questionable statue to start with. Put it in a museum. Look at all the damn white people mad over here. Good lord, quit trying to make white supremacy happen! Here is a well put together essay on the creation of this monument. Cool. When are the book burnings scheduled?

At first glance, the statue definitely gives a different idea from what is supposed to be depicted. But this is the story behind it. It depicts a formerly enslaved man RISING from his broken chains. It was paid for by? Funded by the wages of freed slaves. Make your case to take it down, don't lie or embellish to do so, you pathetic hacks.

Since 1879? then it’s part of the history of this country Cowards What disrespect to the history of the statue and the slaves who solely paid for it in recognition of the freedom that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation gave them. They wanted the statue! Disgusting marxists. The PC movement we have allowed has officially crossed the tipping point to utter stupidity. If you support this YOU’RE the problem.

RennaW No, it depicts Lincoln freeing the kneeling man, who is rising up. He isn’t “kneeling at his feet.” This is a dumb lie. BoycottBoston Erase history that's so brave Trying to hide the evidence it was a Republican that freed them Tell us more about that black white supremisist who drove her car through peaceful protesters that drew a gun on her.

WHY do we fund an anti American media outlet like npr ? Like pbs Please tell me senatemajldr GOPLeader GOP KAG2020 Fahrenheit 451 Ignorance wins yet again. Sad. Abhorent statue. Good job Nazi Propaganda Radio. You've played yourselves. Should leave this historic statue there and put a brand new statue in the same area of a statue they like. Put the history behind the statues, not how it’s twisted.

the 1930s wants to know when is the book burning starting? My man should be standing, he kneels to no one. Evil I am white, so maybe I should shut my mouth, but wouldn’t this specific statue be looked at more like art and celebrating the awfulness of slavery being abolished? Lincoln saw everyone as equal. Fake news/statue, take it down.

Put up a replacement statue of Diddy and Lincoln together Now this is going a bit far! About damn time ... Put in a museum see how many people will pay to see it, I say NONE. But they will complain that its not there. Times are a changing and its about dam time they do. marty_walsh another pandering for votes roll over for the mob gutless move. We would still be British if you & wunderkind MassGovernor were around pre revolution. Maybe it’s time to revolt against you?! Recall! TheKuhnerReport G_CURLEY HowieCarrShow

Is this The Onion? He's rising, since he's been freed, with his head up looking to the future. This has been explained, you're aware, but are being deceitful because you're a dishonest rag. Anyone else amazed learning about all these clearly F'd up statues around the country. Who saw that and thought yeah that represent freedom and equality?

Folks should read up on this statute. The man's shackles are broken and he is rising up. 👍 Better do it quick before you-know-who catches wind of it and squashes their whole plan!! Yea, that's a nice gesture and all, But could we focus on holding the police accountable for killing Blacks, and reform the system that condones it?! Please?!

Peehaps maybe we focus attentions on more important matters, doing things like this before an election will only divide the left even more. Take the confederate generals down. FCK NAZIS. But hillary and plannedparenthood qanon pbs nprpolitics abcnews nytimes nbc YouMayHaveALowIQ ? wait ...wat?

I've never heard anyone seriously claim the former slave is 'kneeling before Lincoln.' Is it not clear that the man is in the act of getting up after being freed? I get that it's awkward, but let's be honest. Thank you martywalsh. I would love to see another statue replace this with Honest Abe and a man and woman of color standing equal. That would be fantastic for my home town!

ClwtrBkAtty He was being freed...he was rising up, not kneeling. That sculpture was paid for by freed slaves! Just stupid to destroy it. This is ridiculous. Statues. What a waste of space. Billions of people are worthy of statues. Let's not play favorites... Progressives are idiots I never knew how many of these weird statues existed. What “public officials” thought these looked good? This is 2020, how are all these demeaning statues still up?

That statue was always pretty ridiculous. Like Lincoln himself raised up a Black man. 'Oh thank you, THANK you massa, for letting me stand back up after beating me down for 300 years.' If we are being honest about Lincoln. He was a segregationist and with that context in mind it is a severely fucked up statue

Now no more nightmares about this statue? All good?

Boston to remove statue depicting freed slave kneeling before President LincolnA statue in a Boston park depicting a formerly enslaved man kneeling before President Abraham Lincoln will be removed, according to city officials. With immediate effect🙆‍♂️🙆‍♂️ Why? in the first place.

Boston to remove statue of freed slave kneeling before LincolnBoston’s arts commission has voted unanimously to take down a statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln’s feet. Sad That's their opinion. More stupid by the El Segundo Times and Boston. Good. Its disturbing to look at.

Boston University looking into retiring mascot's nickname because of its reference to 'Gone With the Wind'The president of Boston University has asked a committee to look into whether the school should retire the 'Rhett' nickname of its Boston Terrier mascot because of its reference to the film 'Gone With the Wind.' I would retire it Rhett now.BU_ece HCAbu Should the country do away with history instead of learning from it and not repeat whatever bad things happened. Today is here because of yesterday. How tiring it must be to just sit around all day and try and make everything tie to racism somehow. It's a f*****g mascot, for crying out loud. Give it a rest.

Boston to remove statue of freed slave kneeling before LincolnBoston’s arts commission has voted unanimously to take down a statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln’s feet. Sad That's their opinion. More stupid by the El Segundo Times and Boston. Good. Its disturbing to look at.

Boston to remove statue depicting freed slave kneeling before President LincolnA statue in a Boston park depicting a formerly enslaved man kneeling before President Abraham Lincoln will be removed, according to city officials. With immediate effect🙆‍♂️🙆‍♂️ Why? in the first place.

Opinion | Speak Up, Mr. BidenFrom WSJopinion: As mobs tear down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, where does Joe Biden stand? asks wjmcgurn opinion wjmcgurn MobsterIMPOTUS opinion wjmcgurn More importantly, far more importantly, where does JohnAdams stand? He is America's Prime Mover, and he has no monuments in our nation's Capitol!!! Replace the Jefferson Memorial with an Adams Memorial. AdamsMemorial opinion wjmcgurn In his basement?