(FiveNation.com)- A statue of Abraham Lincoln has been removed from downtown Boston.
On Tuesday, workers removed the statue, called the Emancipation Memorial or the Emancipation Group and the Freedman’s Memorial. It had stood in that spot since 1879.
The statue shows a freed slave kneeling at the feet of Lincoln. As shouts about racial injustice have grown loud this year, the statue and others like it have drawn a lot of criticism.
In June, city officials in Boston had agreed to remove the memorial. At the time, Mayor Marty Walsh said the statue made both residents and visitors feel “uncomfortable.”
In total, more than 12,000 people signed a petition over the summer that demanded Boston remove the statue. The petition was spearheaded by Tory Bullock of nearby Dorchester. In the petition, he wrote:
“It’s supposed to represent freedom but instead represents us still beneath someone else.”
He later told Fox News:
“My problem is with the person in front of him, the person that’s supposed to represent me and my people. He’s not clothed. He’s in chains. It’s just not a good representation for something that’s supposed to represent equality and the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Following that, the public arts commission in the city also voted unanimously that it should be removed.
The Boston statue was actually a copy of a monument that was installed in Washington, D.C., in 1876. The reason a copy was erected in Boston is that its creator, Thomas Ball, called Boston home.
Ball created the statue to celebrate the freeing of the slaves in America, which was done under Lincoln’s administration. The statue was based on Archer Alexander, who was a Black man who once escaped slavery and helped serve in the Union Army. Alexander was also the last man who was recaptured under the old Fugitive Slave Act.
The statue drew two distinct viewpoints. One view is of the shirtless Alexander rising up to his feet and removing the broken shackles that were on his wrists. The other view is that the Black Alexander was kneeling before Lincoln, who was his White emancipator.
The inscription on the statue reads:
“A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors.”
The original statue in Washington, D.C., was paid for by donors who were free Black people. Moses Kimball, a circus showman and White politician, paid for the copy to be installed in Boston.
Protesters in Washington, D.C., said they were going to tear down the original statue over the summer. The National Guard stepped in to protect the statue from being torn down by the protesters, though.
With the statue now removed, it will be placed somewhere in storage. It will remain there until the city makes a decision on whether it should be displayed in one of its museums.
Anger for the monument is not actually new. In 2018, Boston began an in-depth review of all public artworks, monuments and sculptures to see whether they reflected the diversity of the city and, at the same time, didn’t offend any of its communities. At that time, the arts commission said it would be paying extra attention to any work that has “problematic histories.”