Washington DC

Call for Changes to Capitol Hill Statue of Lincoln Standing Over Freed Black Man

"We believe it can be repurposed because the investment that Black people made in the statue is important"

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Some D.C. residents say they want to see changes to a Capitol Hill monument that depicts President Abraham Lincoln standing over a freed African-American man.

The statue shows a shirtless Black man kneeling below Lincoln and clenching his fist, with shackles attached to Lincoln’s feet. It has stood in Lincoln Park since the 1870s.

"The actual statue, the kneeling figure, makes me feel demeaned," resident Paula Edwards said. "It makes me feel as though Black people are supposed to be less than."

African Americans who were freed from slavery raised money to put up the statue, but they didn’t have any creative input.

"It demeans Black people. We believe it can be repurposed because the investment that Black people made in the statue is important," Edwards said.

Edwards and her artistic friend, Marjorie Goldberg, plan on raising money to fix what they describe as a racist reminder or the past.

"It is offensive, of course. It’s ridiculous and I know Frederick Douglas wasn’t pleased about it even though he ultimately inaugurated it," Goldberg said of the statue.

In Boston, thousands have signed a petition to remove a similar statue.

"This is not about Lincoln, this is about the figure that’s supposed to represent my people - naked, kneeling in front of him," petition creator Tory Bullock said. "I think there are lot of creative ideas we can use to change that situation."

Edwards and Goldberg hope to raise more than a million dollars from sponsors, but any changes to the monument must get approval from the National Parks Service.

Correction (June 17, 2020 at 8:55 a.m.): An earlier version of this story misstated where Edwards and Goldberg live.

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