On Tuesday, a group of black Americans started a campaign to save and defend the Emancipation Memorial, a historical statue with former President Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation and a black man recently freed from slavery kneeling at his feet holding a broken chain, from activists seeking to tear the statue down. The famous Lincoln Memorial statue has been one of the many targets of protesters calling for racial justice and the removal of Confederate statues and imagery across the nation.
The Emancipation Memorial statue was purchased and built on April 14, 1876 by contributions of formerly enslaved Americans. According to the National park Service, Charlotte Scott a formerly enslaved woman in Virginia, purchased the statue with the first $5 she earned after being freed from slavery as a way to pay tribute and honor Lincoln for proclaiming their freedom.
While critics claim that the statue is demeaning and offensive, supporters of the monument say that its critics are misreading the history and meaning behind it. Several protesters and D.C. officials, including D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton who recently stated that the statue is “problematic,” are calling for the removal of the statue.
The nonprofit UrbanCURE held an “Emancipation Celebration” on Tuesday at Lincoln Park where dozens of conservative black leaders, politicians, and pastors circled around the now fenced-off statue to defend and advance their petition contending that the statue is “part of the heart and soul of our country.” Demonstrators held signs saying “not all black Americans agree with BLM” and “Save Arch Alexander.
He’s not kneeling. He’s standing up!”Star Parker, the founder of UrbanCURE, said in a statement, “Black folk like DC Mayor Bowser and Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton need to learn black history… Archer Alexander is not kneeling; as a track star prepared to run a dash, the kinetic motion in this figure shows him just emancipated to stand and run his race as a free man.”