Boston Votes to Remove Emancipation Memorial in Park Square

A unanimous vote on Tuesday by the Boston Art Commission means the famous Emancipation Memorial — depicting President Abraham Lincoln with a freed slave — will come down.

The statue celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, which Lincoln signed in 1863 and declares “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederacy “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

A petition calling for the removal of the statue received over 12,000 signatures as of Wednesday. The move to take down the art comes in the wake of George Floyd‘s death and a push for statues deemed racist to be taken down across the nation.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh gave his full support for the removal of the statue and thanked the commission for their work.

“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,” Walsh said in a statement.

According to CBS Boston, the commission has not set a removal yet and the group is determining how to “re-contextualize” the statue in a new public setting.

“Public art is storytelling at the street level. As such, the imagery should strike the heart and engage the mind,” said Vice-Chair of the Boston Art Commission Ekua Holmes in a statement. “What I heard today is that it hurts to look at this piece, and in the Boston landscape we should not have works that bring shame to any groups of people, not only in Boston but across the entire United States.”

The monument has stood in a park near Boston Common since 1879 and is a replica of the Washington D.C. Emancipation Memorial statue.

The inscription on the statue reads: “A race set free/ and the country at peace / Lincoln / Rests from his labors.”

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