The headlines read “Calls to remove controversial Abraham Lincoln statue in Boston” as the Black Lives Matters protests sparked support to take down a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Park Square, between the Park Plaza and the Transportation Building.
President Lincoln, the Great Empancipator, stands over a half-clothed freed slave with broken chains on his wrist who is kneeling at Lincoln’s feet.
The statue’s pedestal reads “A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors.” The memorial represents Lincoln freeing African American slaves at the end of the Civil War.
The statue is a replica of the original Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Freedman’s Memorial, dedicated in Washington, D.C., in 1876 and was funded with money donated by former slaves.
Dorchester native Tory Bullock started the petition last Thursday, which has gained more than 9,000 signatures as of Tuesday, calling for the statue’s removal.
“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,” Bullock wrote in the online petition. “I would always ask myself, ‘if he’s free, why is he still on his knees?’ No kid should have to ask themselves that question anymore.”
In a Facebook video last week, Bullock called on Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) to remove the statute or change it somehow to show the black man standing on his own two feet and clothed.
Walsh, who declared racism a public health crisis in the city Friday, is in favor of removing the statue and possibly replacing it with something that recognizes equality, and is willing to engage in talks about its future in Boston, according to The Boston Globe.
The statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston’s North End was put into storage last week after vandals removed its head.