Story at a glance

  • The Emancipation Memorial statue that has stood in Park Square for more than 100 years shows President Lincoln with one hand raised standing above a half-clothed freed slave who is kneeling at Lincoln’s feet with broken chains on his wrists.
  • “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,” the petition reads.
  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) has reportedly said he’s open to removing the statue or replacing it.

Thousands of Americans have signed a petition to remove a statue depicting President Abraham Lincoln standing over a freed slave in Boston’s Park Square, as a national movement to remove historical monuments has gained traction following the death of George Floyd.

The Emancipation Memorial statue that has stood in Park Square for more than 100 years shows Lincoln with one hand raised standing above 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. 


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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. 


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“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 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. 

The push to remove the statue of Lincoln comes as historical monuments, most depicting Confederate figures, across the country have been torn down or vandalized by protesters, or removed by local governments amid an uprising against racism following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

A statue of Christopher Columbus was beheaded last week in Boston’s North End neighborhood.


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Published on Jun 16, 2020