Petition calling for removal of statue in Boston’s Lincoln Square

BOSTON — People in Boston are calling for the city to remove the emancipation statue in Lincoln square.

The statue depicts a slave at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. An online petition has more than 7,800 signatures asking for the statue to be taken down.

It is a replica of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington D.C. and was erected in Lincoln Square in 1879. Now, to many, its image can be offensive and racist.

“What they tried to depict here was the figure rising up toward freedom but it’s unmistakable when you look at it that they really missed the mark on that,” said Raul Fernandez, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Boston University Wheelock.

Fernandez has spent countless hours studying similar statues across the country.

“The paternalistic image we see in this statue here is emblematic of how slaveholders and even abolitionists viewed black people,” Fernandez said.

The man at the feet of Lincoln is named Archer Alexander. He was a slave in Missouri but Fernandez said at the time the statue was commissioned, Alexander wasn’t a free man.

“Archer Alexander lived in Missouri and was actually exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation at that time,” Fernandez said.

The original Emancipation Memorial in D.C., was paid for by former slaves but Fernandez said that even black abolitionist Fredrick Douglas had a problem with the design.

“Fredrick Douglas comments, when the D.C. statue was unveiled said a more manly attitude would have been this figure standing up beside Lincoln not down at his feet,” Fernandez said.

A city official tells Boston 25 News that Mayor Marty Walsh is in favor of removing the statue but also interested in creating a dialogue with the community to recommission the statue into one that recognizes equality.

The statue is a monument that falls under the Arts Commission but the city is looking into what the process would entail.

In Springfield, a statue of Christopher Columbus was defaced over the weekend with spray paint. That has since been cleaned up.

In the North End, it’s unclear what will happen to the Columbus Statue that was recently beheaded and then removed for repairs.

The Boston Globe reports that an Italian-American group has come out in support of returning that statue to the park, where it has been since the late 1970s calling Columbus the first immigrant and the first missionary.

Those opposed to the statue say Columbus represents white supremacy over indigenous people.