WASHINGTON (WDVM) — On Thursday, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton reintroduced her bill to remove the Emancipation Statue from Lincoln Park. On Friday, she introduced another to remove a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike near Judiciary Square.
These are two of a series of bills she’s introducing this Black History Month to remove memorials with troublesome ties in the District of Columbia. She’s advocating to have them placed in museums for educational purposes.
“The point is not to have them in full view as if we were still commemorating our history,” said Holmes Norton, “and these were statues put up before the District of Columbia had home rule; they did not have any input from the District of Columbia.”
The Emancipation Statue was paid for by freed slaves, but historians don’t believe it was designed with their input. The monument depicts Abraham Lincoln freeing a slave with the Emancipation Proclamation in his hand. The slave is on one knee with broken shackles at the president’s feet. Holmes Norton says Frederick Douglass did not praise the statue in his keynote address at its unveiling.
“At the end of last year, Boston removed its replica of the statue and plans to place it in a publicly accessible location where it can be better contextualized,” she said. “It is time for Congress to place the original statue in a museum, too.”
Holmes Norton says many of her constituents are supportive of removing the memorials, but there’s “some division” when it comes to the Emancipation Statue. It was dedicated in 1876 on the 11th anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination. “There are some people… because they revere Lincoln, and they believe the slave is giving thanks.”
The congresswoman doesn’t have any replacement memorials in mind.