Boston to remove Abraham Lincoln statue with kneeling down slave, Angry Internet says 'America erased'

The city's art commission voted unanomously on June 30 to remove the statue after receiving increasing number of complaints about the Emancipation Memorial

                            Boston to remove Abraham Lincoln statue with kneeling down slave, Angry Internet says 'America erased'
(Getty Images)

After a prolonged debate, Boston has ultimately decided to remove a statue depicting a slave kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, the US’ iconic former president who is credited for ending slavery. The city’s art commission voted unanimously on Tuesday, June 30, to remove the statue after receiving increasing number of complaints about the Emancipation Memorial, also called the Emancipation Group and the Freedman’s Memorial, in the wake of the anti-black protests that have engulfed the US. The protests have also seen statues of former leaders being targeted since they symbolize slavery. 

The bronze statue in Boston's Park Square dates back to the 1870s and was meant to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order which was signed by the late president that put an end to slavery in the Confederacy. The memorial has been at the center of a long-drawn controversy owing to the position of the freed slave at the feet of Lincoln, who was assassinated in April 1865. The statue is a copy of an identical monument which was erected in Lincoln Park, Washington DC, a few years earlier and was installed in Boston because the city was home to Thomas Ball, its creator. 

Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests continue around the country over police brutality, racial injustice and the deaths of African Americans while in police custody. (Getty Images)

Though the monument was set up to celebrate the freeing of slaves in the US, many felt offended by the sight of a black man kneeling before Lincoln. “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,” Ekua Holmes, vice chairperson of the arts commission, was quoted as saying by Associated Press. 

“After engaging in a public process, it’s clear that residents and visitors to Boston have been uncomfortable with this statue,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.
Over 12,000 people signed a petition seeking the statue’s removal and while the officials did not immediately decide on a date to pull it down, they said the details would be worked out at their next meeting scheduled for July 14. 

The Emancipation Memorial has been under review of Boston authorities since 2018 when they started a comprehensive review of whether public monuments and artworks were not deemed to be offensive by the colored people, the AP report added and quoted Walsh further: “As we continue our work to make Boston a more equitable and just city, it’s important that we look at the stories being told by the public art in all of our neighborhoods.”

It will cost at least $15,000 to remove the statue, according to Karin Goodfellow, Boston's director of public art.  While freed black donors financed the original monument in Washington, white politician and showman Moses Kimball financed the piece in Boston. The inscription on both monuments reads: “A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors.”

However, the black sentiments were hurt by the slave’s kneeling posture and there have been calls to tear it down. President Donald Trump has been against the statue-toppling spree and said about the controversial Lincoln statue: "I can see controversy, but I can also see beauty in it. It was paid for by slaves. I don’t know if you know that. It was paid for because they were so grateful to the president."

How people responded to the decision to remove the Lincoln statue:

An user named Rubot said: “The original Emancipation Memorial statue was funded by the wages of freed slaves The face of the man Lincoln symbolically "frees" is of an actual real emancipated slave, Archer Alexander Now the Boston Arts Commission wants to deny freed slaves agency and suppress their art”.

Geoffrey Miller, a psychology professor, tweeted: “Which raises the question, what the hell is the Boston Arts Commission, and why do they get to decide about a national landmark?” Another user named Brian Lehman said: “America erased!”

Sky Lopez said: “Boston mayor gives green light to remove Lincoln statue, even though he FREED slaves." A user by the name of Ron B said: “Paid for and placed there out of gratitude by Actual freed slaves. BLM has no sense of history. BLM was founded by self proclaimed Marxists. The most toxic political system of the last hundred plus years.”