Jun 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Protesters target Abraham Lincoln statues in Boston and D.C.

The twin Emancipation Memorials in Boston and D.C.
Photos: J. Scott Applewhite/AP, Steven Senne/AP

Protesters are demanding the removal of twin Emancipation memorials — one in D.C. (left) and the other in Boston (right) — that depict a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet, AP reports.

Why it matters: Following a revival of the Black Lives Matter Movement, protesters are looking at these statues with a fresh lens, AP writes. Many are offended by the imagery of a Black man kneeling before Abraham Lincoln, with critics saying it looks more like subservience and supremacy in 2020.

  • The Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman's Memorial, was erected in Washington's Lincoln Park in 1876.
  • Three years later, a copy was installed in Boston, home to the statue's white creator, Thomas Ball.

What they're saying: Tory Bullock, a Black actor and activist leading the campaign to get the Boston memorial removed, told AP, "I’ve been watching this man on his knees since I was a kid. It’s supposed to represent freedom but instead represents us still beneath someone else. I would always ask myself, “If he’s free, why is he still on his knees?’” Bullock said.

The state of play:

  • The city of Boston has been reviewing the statue since at least 2018 when it launched a comprehensive review of public sculptures and monuments.
  • Protesters in Washington D.C. were met with 400 unarmed National Guard personnel as they demanded the removal of the statue.

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