“I can see controversy, but I can also see beauty in it,” Trump said.
7 min read
A bronze president, like God, Abraham Lincoln, towers over a kneeling and newly freed slave. With a clenched fist, the unidentified man wears only a loincloth and broken shackles at the president’s feet.
The Emancipation Monument, with a design that dates back to the Lincoln assassination in 1865, faces new criticism amid a national race trial.
The original statue in Washington, DC and its replica in Boston have faced criticism not from Lincoln himself, who signed the proclamation to end slavery, but for its interpretation and that of the free slave.
But when protesters gathered to try to tear down the statue near the United States Capitol on Friday night, and were met by heavily armed guards and a barrier approximately 10 feet high, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect the monuments, one measure had joked all week.
“I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order that protects the Monuments, Monuments and Statues of the United States, and fights recent criminal violence,” he tweeted on Friday. “Long prison terms for these illegal acts against our Great Country!”
I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order that protects the Monuments, Monuments and Statues of the United States, and fights recent criminal violence. Long prison terms for these illegal acts against our Great Country! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020
While President Trump has argued that removing the statues would compel Americans to forget “our heritage,” many Americans argue that many of them are painful reminders of something else.
“This statue here embodies white supremacy and black disempowerment that whites oblige us. That is why we are tearing down this statue,” 20-year-old organizer Glenn Foster said in a protest earlier this week. .
According to the National Park Service, which maintains the park, an African-American woman named Charlotte Scott from Virginia used the first $ 5 she made free to start a campaign as a way to pay tribute to Lincoln after he was assassinated in 1865.
The funds to build the statue were collected exclusively from ex-slaves, NPS says, but the organization that controlled the effort and maintained the funds was a St. Louis-based white-headed war aid agency.
“Although formerly enslaved Americans paid for the construction of this statue in 1876, the design and sculpture process was carried out without their input, and it shows. The statue in no way notes how enslaved African Americans pushed for their own emancipation.” said. Democrat Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC, who will introduce legislation next week to remove the statue.
“Understandably, they were recently freed from slavery and appreciated any acknowledgment of their freedom. However, in his opening address at the presentation of this statue, Frederick Douglass also expressed his discontent with the statue,” he continued in a statement.
Trump defended the specific monument at a city hall with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Thursday night, saying: “They are behind Abraham Lincoln” and offering their interpretation of the design.
“You are signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and you have someone, I think it was not free and he is rising, it is the position to rise. Abraham Lincoln released him,” he said.
“I can see controversy, but I can also see beauty in it,” Trump said. “The slaves paid for it. I don’t know if they know. They paid it because they were very grateful to the president.”
On Friday, Trump tweeted that he canceled a trip to New Jersey because “he wanted to stay in Washington, DC to make sure THE LAW AND THE ORDER are followed.”
… I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe, and these people will be brought to justice! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020
400 miles away, in Boston, where the replica is publicly displayed, at least 12,000 people share the sentiment of critics of the statue in the nation’s capital.
In the statue designer’s hometown, a request to remove the copy prompted officials to schedule a public hearing on the next steps on June 30.
“I have been observing this man on his knees since he was a child,” says Tory Bullock’s request. “It is supposed to represent freedom, but instead it represents us even under someone else. I always wondered, ‘If she’s free, why is she still kneeling?’ No child should ever have to ask that question again. ”