American News Dec 29, 2020 8:08 PM EST

Statue of Lincoln freeing slave taken down in Boston after pressure from 'anti-racism' activists

A Boston statue of a freed slave kneeling before Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in most of the United States, has been removed

Statue of Lincoln freeing slave taken down in Boston after pressure from 'anti-racism' activists
Noah David Alter Toronto
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A Boston statue of a freed slave kneeling before Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in most of the United States, has been removed, CBS News reports.

Activists demanded the removal of the emancipation statue, erected in 1879, because they believed it to be racist. The effort to remove the statue was spearheaded by Tory Bullock, a Boston-based activist who started a petition to remove the statue.

"My issue is not America and my issue is not freedom, it is the naked black man sitting in front that I have a problem with," Bullock previously stated.

Now he is happy to see the statue coming down.

"It's an amazing funeral, I'm here to provide a silent eulogy for this piece of artwork that's been here for 141 years," Bullock said while watching the monument be torn down. "This image has been doing a lot of disservice to African-Americans in Boston and now it stops."

Others have opposed tearing down the statue, arguing that those who see it as depicting a servile black man before Abraham Lincoln are misinterpreting it.

"I understand there's a big campaign trying to raise money to either take it down or mend it, and I say 'no,'" said Marcia Cole, who works for an auxiliary organization of the African American Civil War Museum. "People tend to think of that figure as being servile but on second look you will see something different, perhaps. That man is not kneeling on two knees with his head bowed. He is in the act of getting up. And his head is up, not bowed, because he's looking forward to a future of freedom."

The Emancipation Group, the name of the statue, was a replica of a statue depicting the same scene in Washington DC, which was paid for by freed slaves. The slave depicted kneeling before Abraham Lincoln is Archer Alexander, an escaped slave who fought in the Union army before being recaptured under the fugitive slave law, which forced northern free states to deliver runaway slaves back to southern slave states.

The unveiling of the original statue in Washington, DC took place in 1876, with then-President Ulysses Grant and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglas in attendance.

The decision to remove the statue was made through a unanimous vote by the Boston Art Commission. Its removal was also endorsed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

"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. I fully support the Boston Art Commission's decision for removal and thank them for their work," Walsh said.

The statue is one of many historical monuments in the United States to be torn down in the past six months.

It is also not the first statue of Lincoln to come down either, with activists Portland, Oregon having torn down a statue dedicated to the emancipator. A statue of Abraham Lincoln was also defaced in San Francisco as a local school named after him is being considered for renaming.

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