Story at a glance

  • The “Monumental Reckoning” exhibit features 350 black steel sculptures that represent the first Africans who were stolen from their homeland and brought to America.
  • It will be displayed where the statue of Key once stood.
  • Key, the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was a slave owner and anti-abolitionist.

An art exhibit representing America’s first slaves will open on Juneteenth around the space where a statue of Francis Scott Key was toppled by racial justice protesters in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, according to Reuters

The “Monumental Reckoning” exhibit that features 350 black steel sculptures that stand 4 feet high will be unveiled on June 19, the holiday marking the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. The sculptures represent the first Africans who were stolen from their homeland and brought to the English colony of Virginia in 1619. 


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“We are standing for justice in that space, for everyone who has been oppressed,” Dana King, the artist behind the exhibit, told Reuters. 

The artwork will be located around the pedestal where a statue of Key, the creator of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” once stood. 

On June 19, 2020, just weeks after the police killing of George Floyd, protestors tore down the statue of Key, who was a slave owner and abolition opponent. 

According to Reuters, Key’s 1814 poem that later became the U.S. national anthem in 1931 includes a line in defense of slavery. He also reportedly lobbied President Jackson to appoint his brother-in-law Roger Taney to the U.S. Supreme Court, who wrote the Dred Scott decision that said Black people could not be U.S. citizens. 

“I hope it becomes a communal space where people come to speak and listen to others - people who don’t look like them. So that we can have a dialogue that the entire country needs to be having,” King said. 


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Published on Jun 11, 2021