DC Lincoln Park ‘Emancipation’ statue among monuments drawing scrutiny

In Montgomery County, the county council has ordered an audit of everything named after Confederate figures, while Alexandria, Va. just removed a controversial statue of a Confederate soldier.

In D.C., however, an Abraham Lincoln statue is facing calls for its removal.

Lincoln memorably led Union to victory over the Confederacy during the Civil War, and signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing African-American slaves.

RELATED: Third Confederate statue torn down in Richmond

The “Emancipation” statue, in fact, is the monument in question.
The statue was placed in Lincoln Park in 1876, a little over a decade after Lincoln’s assassination. Frederick Douglass spoke at the unveiling.

But while it has stood for 144 years, now, in 2020, it’s become a subject of scrutiny.

The scene shows Lincoln standing over a kneeling, un-clothed African-American slave who has broken chains on his feet and hands.

RELATED: Montgomery County council looks to rename streets, facilities named after Confederates

Raul Fernandez of Boston University says the statue is demeaning to African-Americans, and it should be removed.

“This has two figures in it and unfortunately the figure below, the one that is at Lincoln’s feet, that man has been sitting there, kneeling there, undignified with mostly almost NO clothes on, no name, and really just serves as a ‘prop’ to make Lincoln loom even larger,” Fernandez says.

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In an essay, Fernandez researched the history of the Emancipation statue, and while Frederick Douglass did deliver the keynote at its dedication, upon seeing it, he wrote that a more dignified depiction would have been “indicative of freedom.”

A replica of the statue is located in Boston, and Mayor Marty Walsh is considering removing it.

People in Lincoln Park told FOX 5 that while they understand the statue is intended to honor emancipation, the depiction is out of place in 2020.

“I feel like they could have made it different, him standing towering over the black man in chains, it’s a ‘superiority’ kind of thing you know,” said one person.

 “I think it should be taken down, I think it is demeaning to African Americans,” said another.

Fernandez says that beyond the depiction of Lincoln and the free slave, it’s also problematic in that it gives Lincoln sole credit for ending slavery – while African-Americans also fought to end it.

FOX 5 reached out to the National Park Service for comment on Thursday, but they have yet to respond.