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Boston Arts Commission votes to remove that Emancipation statue from Park Square

Greg Cook has the details of the vote to remove the statue that shows Lincoln standing over a half-naked now former slave.

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Good!

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I can't say I've ever seen, or at least taken notice, of this statue. Somehow, I still know about the legacy of Lincoln and slavery. Can you miss something you never knew? If so, I won't miss this statue.

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Straw man. Nobody claimed this statue is necessary for people to know that slavery existed in this country.

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But all across the country, there's a great hue and cry to Save Our Statues (yes, including this one) because they represent history and stuff, to which the answer, of course, is: Have you ever heard of books and museums?

So, yes, I've seen that argument with this statue (along with that memorial to Southern traitors who died on Georges Island, the one that Gov. Baker had crated up and put in storage). Another argument: It was a statue of its time and modern critics are misunderstanding its symbolism, and basically tough noogies if it now looks like a white guy towering over a fearful half-naked slave, even if the white guy is ol' Honest Abe.

Remove the statue from that location and will we magically forget what happened in 1865? Will we suddenly remember that Lincoln did not, in fact, free all the slaves? The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to Confederate states, not places like Maryland and Delaware - and it did not even come to the last of the slave states until, well, Juneteenth, 1865, several months after Lincoln was assassinated.

Better yet, why are there no statutes of Garrison, who led the fight for abolition from Boston (granted, the locals hated him and once tried to tar and feather him) or any of Boston's Black abolitionists? Here's a handy list.

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Where did you see this argument with this statue?

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Do you think that it may be unfair to lump all these statues into one bucket?

I am ok with taking this statue down and am fine with changing things up but the history of this statue is not the same as the Confederate ones or even Columbus. It really did mean well at the time even more so as the people involved in the creation of the statues were those who we would now be interested in not offending.

If people deem it should come down then come down it should but lets not demonize those who meant well by creating and placing it. We can always re-do it in a fashion that meets the dignity of those involved while expanding on what did and did not happen with that proclamation.

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I disagreed with you about that one. Until the news reports about this plaque, I had no idea that Georges Island had been the site of a prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers, let alone that some of them had died there. That is useful and interesting history to learn.

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and none of them were put up during the Civil Rights movement by a white supremacist group looking to celebrate a bunch of slavers.

Sorry if you hadn't seen it before, but it wasn't secret or hidden by any means.

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In most incarnations that I've seen, they start with a straw man and end with a slippery slope where all of the monuments are gone and no one knows any history anymore.

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Nobody claimed this statue is necessary for people to know that slavery existed in this country.

Except this guy, apparently:

https://www.universalhub.com/comment/791745#commen...

We no longer wish to celebrate the Emancipation.

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Claiming the statue celebrates the Emancipation is not the same thing as saying the statue is necessary for people to even know that slavery or Emancipation happened.

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It was pointed out by a tour guide-it has never been one of the prominent Boston landmarks. But before this week I did not know that the same statue exists elsewhere-the original is in DC, (installed in 1876) also distant from the more famous memorials.

There is also a version at the Methuen Town Hall.

According to Wikipedial one of the original submitted designs for the memorial depicted Lincoln standing with Black Union Soldiers.

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Boston could freely do this since what they have now is a copy and not an original work of art.

But I chose not to make a public comment in this process, since I am neither a Black person nor a resident of Boston. I did listen in on part of the first meeting.

I have read that the placement used to be more prominent, before redevelopment shifted various streets in Park Plaza. It once had a clear view to the State House.

Can you tell us more about the one in Methuen?

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(I'm not even exactly sure where Methuen is) The statue in Methuen is a smaller version, it sits in the Town Hall atrium.

Any residents of/visitors to Methuen are encouraged to enlighten us.

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You don't have to be a resident of Boston to look at a statue in Boston.

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but with so many other people waiting to speak at that meeting, I decided that their voices were more important than mine.

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It WAS a prominent Boston landmark when it was dedicated in front of the grand Boston and Providence railroad station which was one of the main terminals into the city from points south until South Union Station was built. Once the rail station stopped being important and eventually was demolish in 1925 that area stopped being a gateway to the city. The various reconfiguration of Park Square over subsequent years made the statue location decreasingly prominent. The most recent condo building on South Charles Street shoved it into a shadowy corner where it has mostly been ignored until now.

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The commission had an open hearing tonight via Zoom. I went in with one opinion and came away with three! I'm pleased with their vote. The people who spoke tonight brought up great insights and made me very proud of being a Boston resident. Tory Bullock did a lot of heavy lifting making videos, creating the petition, and getting the word out.

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Send it to Washington DC. That way they'll have a spare in case their Emancipation monument gets broken.

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Next on the list the statue of Edgar Allen Poe outside the transportation building. His famous story the Gold Bug is nothing more than a racist rant.

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I wrote the BAC instead of attending the meeting, with a letter of support for keeping the statue. The statue is meant to depict the moment the Lincoln freed the slaves via the Emancipation Proclamation. The slave is on one knee, not two, his head is upright, not bowed, and he grasps the ends of the chain that previously had bound him. He is in the act of realizing his freedom. And if there was any doubt as the intent of the statue, there is an accompanying plaque.

So in the name of justice for Black people, we have taken down a monument to a man who has done more for restoring justice to Black people than almost anyone. We no longer wish to celebrate the Emancipation.

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"Others opposed the proposal, including Keith Winstead, a distant relative of Alexander who believes the monument is a tribute to a critical period in Black history and to an American hero who risked his life to help Union soldiers during the Civil War.

“It’s sad. It’s really sad,” Winstead said Tuesday night after the vote. “You can’t change history.”

Winstead said he would like to see the statue moved to Alexander’s grave site near St. Louis, where Winstead lives. “There is a place for it here,” he said."

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The slave is on one knee, not two, his head is upright, not bowed, and he grasps the ends of the chain that previously had bound him. He is in the act of realizing his freedom.

I think the objection is that it implies that the slave was in a condition of abject suffering until Lincoln beneficently bestowed emancipation on him. It completely elides the decades and centuries of struggle that African slaves had already devoted to winning their freedom. That's certainly the impression I got from it the first time I saw it. It infantilizes the slave and removes him as an agent of his own emancipation.

We no longer wish to celebrate the Emancipation.

As the old joke says, "Where do you get this 'we' shit, Paleface?" There were millions of Americans celebrating Emancipation less than two weeks ago. Americans are perfectly capable of celebrating Emancipation without retaining one particularly degrading statue.

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And some others, for well reasoned & polite debate. It's welcome vs so much of the screaming and name calling.

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"I think the objection is that it implies that the slave was in a condition of abject suffering until Lincoln beneficently bestowed emancipation on him."

Yes, the Black slave was murdered, raped, kidnapped, whipped by the white slave owner in the US. Their families were torn apart, and they were forced to labor at menial jobs in brutal working conditions. This depiction is mild compared to the reality of the time.

https://www.npr.org/2012/03/14/148520024/emancipating-lincoln-a-pragmati...

"On the cover of Holzer's book is an engraving that shows a scene from April 4, 1865. It's President Lincoln, holding the hand of his young son Tad, as he enters Richmond, Va., just two days after Confederate forces had fled their capital.

Jubilant African-Americans toss their hats in the air as they greet him:

"They rushed over to him and cheered and knelt," Holzer says. "And Lincoln famously said — and there were witnesses there — 'Please don't kneel to me. You must kneel only to God and thank Him for your freedom.' ... This was Lincoln's real emancipation moment. This was a moment when the Union troops were occupying the capital of the Confederacy. And these black workers were actually, that moment, free under the terms of the proclamation.

"Here is the Emancipation Proclamation in action. ... This was Lincoln acknowledging, after all those years of struggle, with the end finally in sight, that this was going to be a different society, a society of mutual respect and not subjugation."

But that moment of quiet triumph was fleeting. Just 10 days later, Lincoln was assassinated."

Fair enough, we no longer want to concretize the moment that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. I disagree, this was a crucial moment in America's history.

Juneteenth does not directly celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, it celebrates the moment a Union army general told the Texas slaves they were free, roughly 2 and a half years earlier.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth

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Yes, the Black slave was murdered, raped, kidnapped, whipped by the white slave owner in the US. Their families were torn apart, and they were forced to labor at menial jobs in brutal working conditions. This depiction is mild compared to the reality of the time.

Yes, thanks for the history lesson. Slaves survived incredibly cruel conditions. Should the statue have shown a woman being raped, while Abe Lincoln pulls her rapist up off her? Probably not, unless you're really into the horrific details of slavery.

And the horrible details of slavery do not constitute the entirety of their lives under slavery. They also (to be trite) lived, and laughed, and loved, and held their heads high (when they were allowed to). So why should they be commemorated in a statue that emphasizes their wretchedness?

Slaves were chained and slaves were beaten and slaves were raped. But they also resisted, and struggled, and some of them escaped and some of them helped other slaves escape. They were not passive bystanders in their own liberation.

So it is offensive -- in a historical monument intended to commemorate their freedom -- to have them symbolically portrayed in a condition of abject helplessness prior to the intervention of the Great Emancipator.

Does that help?

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You need it, you didn't even know what Juneteenth was celebrating.

Here's some more:

“The Emancipation Group” is a replica of a statue in Washington D.C. by Charlestown-born 19th-century sculptor Thomas Ball. The statue has been criticized since its installation for the demeaning pose of the formerly enslaved man. The man depicted is Archer Alexander, a Black man who helped the Union Army and fled slavery and was again enslaved under the Fugitive Slave Act.

from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/06/30/metro/city-remove-controversial-e...

It seems Archer Alexander had no issue with the statue he posed for. The issue is not a typical slaves passivity or resistance to his condition, the fundamental is that slavery was legal in the South and the man who made it illegal was Abraham Lincoln. If a slave escaped, he was whipped. After that he might be killed. And this was legal. Try educating yourself about slavery in the US, I'm done doing it. Your (unreferenced) posts only underscore my point; that this was a momument that needs to remain to help ensure the Emancipation Proclamation and it's historical importance is not forgotten.

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The statue has been criticized since its installation for the demeaning pose of the formerly enslaved man.

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If we take down all the weird racist art how are our kids going to learn important historical facts like, "In the past, the people in charge really liked weird racist art."

I have a feeling that Lincoln is going to be fine, though. (Unless we finally get rid of the penny, in which case all bets are off.)

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Great job Tory!!

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There is one, prominently on the Comm. Ave. Mall.

http://bostonlitdistrict.org/venue/william-lloyd-garrison-sculpture/

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