Lincoln statue celebrating emancipation of slaves was hooded and removed by Boston leaders

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President Abraham Lincoln’s statue in Boston celebrating the emancipation of slaves in America has been removed.

After standing in Park Square since 1879, the bronze statue, which is a copy of a monument in Washington, D.C., was taken down on Tuesday as the city of Boston caved to demands from those offended by the image, which shows a freed black slave at the feet of the president.

“A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors,” reads the inscription at the base of both statues meant to celebrate the freeing of slaves in America.

The Emancipation Memorial was removed by workers from its perch in a park just off Boston Common on Tuesday, following debate over months that included thousands of petition signatures. In a unanimous vote over the summer, the Boston Arts Commission moved to have the statue taken down after it has stood at the spot for 141 years.


(Source: WPRI)

“After engaging in a public process, it’s clear that residents and visitors to Boston have been uncomfortable with this statue, and its reductive representation of the Black man’s role in the abolitionist movement,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement after the vote this summer.

The National Guard was deployed to protect the initial Emancipation statue in Washington after protesters threatened to tear it down during the summer’s violent riots and demonstrations. The statue was reportedly funded by former slaves who wanted to honor Lincoln, according to the National Park Service.

The Boston replica had been erected in the city to honor Thomas Ball, the white man who created the work and lived in the Massachusetts capital.

The controversy over the statue seemed to stem from objections to the position of the freed slave before Lincoln, who holds a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1863 decree by the president during the Civil War which declared “that all persons held as slaves” in the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

The shirtless man before Lincoln, based on the real former slave Archer Alexander, is seen rising to his feet, the shackles on his wrists broken in a symbol of his new freedom. But critics complain that the image is demeaning because it appears that the emancipated slave is kneeling before the white man who has freed him.

“We’re pleased to have taken it down this morning,” a spokeswoman for Boston’s mayor said in a statement after the removal of the art work on Tuesday, CNN reported.

“As expressed by so many during the public process this year, we fully agree that the statue should be relocated to a new publicly accessible location where its history and context can be better explained,” the spokeswoman said. “The decision for removal acknowledges the statue’s role in perpetuating harmful prejudices and obscuring the role of Black Americans in shaping the nation’s fight for freedom.”

The statue was to be placed in a temporary storage facility and the city is asking the public for ideas on where its new location should be.

Though the statue’s removal was celebrated by activists, Black Lives Matter advocates and others, many expressed their frustration with cancel culture on social media.

Frieda Powers

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