The “Emancipation Memorial” was finally removed from Boston’s Park Square on Tuesday six months after the Boston Art Commission voted unanimously for its removal following an outcry from religious groups.
Boston’s “Emancipation Memorial,” identical to the statue that is in Washington, D.C., shows a former slave kneeling on the ground with President Abraham Lincoln standing over him. The memorial in D.C. was the target of activists who wanted to personally tear it down in June, though police prevented its toppling.
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Groups who wanted the memorial to be removed said it was a racist depiction of emancipation, according to WCVB-TV.
“It’s demeaning, with the Black man on his knees, with Lincoln’s hand over his head — and what bothered me the most when I looked at it the other day was, the Black man on his knees still has the chains on his hands,” Rev. Miniard Culpepper, senior pastor of the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, said.
Mayor Marty Walsh (D) thanked the art commission for voting to remove the memorial after its decision in June.
According to the National Park Service, the “Emancipation Memorial” in D.C. was funded by former slaves who wanted to honor Lincoln for his role in freeing America’s slaves towards the end of the U.S. Civil War:
“The campaign for the Freedmen’s Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln, as it was to be known, was not the only effort of the time to build a monument to Lincoln; however, as the only one soliciting contributions exclusively from those who had most directly benefited from Lincoln’s act of emancipation it had a special appeal.
“The funds were collected solely from freed slaves (primarily from African American Union veterans), however, the organization controlling the effort and keeping the funds was a white-run, war-relief agency based in St.Louis, the Western Sanitary Commission. The monument was designed by Thomas Ball, cast in Munich in 1875 and shipped to Washington in 1876. Congress accepted the Emancipation Group, as it came to be known, from the ‘colored citizens of the United States’ for placement in Lincoln Square and appropriated $3,000 for a pedestal upon which it would rest.”
The city of Boston notes that while abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke at the statue’s dedication, he later expressed his disappointment with the memorial’s depiction.