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By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Boston's arts commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to remove a statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln’s feet.

The commission had fielded escalating complaints about the Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman’s Memorial, as a nation confronting racial injustice rethinks old imagery.

The statue has stood in a park just off Boston Common since 1879. It's a copy of an identical monument that was erected in Washington, D.C., three years earlier. The copy was installed in Boston because the city was home to the statue's white creator, Thomas Ball.

Although the monument was created to celebrate the freeing of slaves in America, its design disturbed many who objected to the optics of a Black man kneeling before Lincoln.

“What I heard today is that it hurts to look at this piece, and in the Boston landscape, we should not have works that bring shame to any groups of people," said Ekua Holmes, vice chairperson of the arts commission.

“After engaging in a public process, it’s clear that residents and visitors to Boston have been uncomfortable with this statue," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.

More than 12,000 people had signed a petition demanding the statue's removal. Officials did not immediately set a date to take it down, and said details would be worked out at their next meeting on July 14.

The memorial has been on Boston’s radar at least since 2018, when it launched a comprehensive review of whether public sculptures, monuments and other artworks reflected the city’s diversity and didn’t offend communities of color. The arts commission said it was paying extra attention to works with “problematic histories.”

“As we continue our work to make Boston a more equitable and just city, it’s important that we look at the stories being told by the public art in all of our neighborhoods,” Walsh said.

Freed Black donors paid for the original in Washington; white politician and circus showman Moses Kimball financed the copy in Boston. The inscription on both reads: “A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors.”

But Blacks weren’t part of the design process, and the memorial’s central visual takeaway — a Black man kneeling before his white savior — has had people cringing for years.

Protesters have vowed to tear down the original statue in Washington, which has been protected by National Guard troops guarding it and other monuments.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C.

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Kansas City Official Calls to Remove More Racist Monuments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City councilwoman is calling for a plan to remove monuments and rename streets that honor figures who were slaveholders or racists.

Councilwoman Melissa Robinson of the 3rd District introduced a legislation that would establish a 12-member commission to research and make recommendations to the City Council for removal of monuments of those “that held slaves, promoted racism or participated in the oppression and dehumanization of others,” The Kansas City Star reported.

The commission must have one member from each of the six City Council districts, a historian, three members representing local civil rights groups, a religious scholar and a representative of an Indigenous group, according to the legislation.

Last month, the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners in Kansas City voted unanimously to remove J.C. Nichols’ name from the fountain and roadway on the Country Club Plaza that honored him.

Statues of President Andrew Jackson were also ordered to be removed from the county’s two courthouses in Kansas City and Independence.

“I hope that one day that Kansas City will get to a place of reconciliation within the community as it relates to repairing the relationship with African Americans, people of color, other groups that have been marginalized in the city,” Robinson said. “In order to do that, you have to reflect deeply on what does the repair look like and you have to be able to be innovative around how is it that we can address these things.”

Robinson said she did not have specific streets or monuments she wanted to see changed but many of Kansas City’s major streets, like Wornall Road, McGee Street and Troost Avenue, were named after slaveholders, according to The Star.

The legislation was referred to committee and is expected to be heard next week.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Kansas

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