There's been a lot of racially-motivated statue-toppling going on all across the U.S., and a recent group of individuals set their sights on the Emancipation Memorial, also known as Freedman's Memorial, in Washington, D.C.
The statue depicts President Abraham Lincoln standing over a kneeling, newly-freed slave, a symbol to the end of not only the Civil War but slavery in the United States.
The trouble is that the posing of the statue depicts a subservient Black man standing beneath a magnanimous Abraham Lincoln, an image that was not lost on Frederick Douglass — one of the most bad--s Americans of all time — who spoke at the statue's dedication, stating that it "showed the Negro on his knees when a more manly attitude would have been indicative of freedom."
Because of the statue's posing, several people have called for it to be removed. And a large gathering of people calling for its extrication from D.C. gathered around it to do so. They were accosted by a Black tour guide, who got on a megaphone and began to lambast everyone surrounding the statue, asking if they knew the "history" behind its inception.
Someone recorded the incident.
Personally, when I was watching the video, I was hoping that the man on the megaphone would go into what the building's history is. However, his messaging, from the provided clip, seems to get lost at one point.
At first, he begins to decry the crowd for not knowing the statue's origins. Then he begins questioning why they didn't clean up around it, if they cared so much about their community.
To his credit, the point I believe the tour guide was attempting to make — which may have been difficult to stick to as there were several people talking as he spoke — was that the individuals surrounding the statue seemed more excited by the prospect of tearing something down for the "good of the community." But when it comes to mobilizing to do something positive for the same communal good, like keeping their neighborhood clean and initiating a park clean up, everyone's MIA.
After he gets off his megaphone, another individual stands up and begins saying, "Last time I checked, this was MY event..." then corrects it to say, "our event." Which irked several commenters who watched the video. The second man on the megaphone then begins talking about their protest and the rest of the clip gets cut off.
But the post had folks talking about the Emancipation Memorial in greater depth, and while some people were appreciative of the tour guide's clear passion, many felt that he never really afforded a reason as to why the statue should've stayed in its place. Again, it appeared that the point he was making is that many of the protesters had no idea what they were exactly protesting or the history behind the statue, which points to a lack of sincerity on their part.
But several commenters did point out the same Frederick Douglass quote that I mentioned up top, and said that regardless of the protesters' ignorance, the statue is a "terrible depiction of black people and it doesn't deserve the place of prominence and reverence that it has right now."
Others said that the building should be removed and placed in the Smithsonian as documentation of accepted artistry and attitudes toward Blacks in America at the time. That even though they were "free," there was an expectation and understanding they'd always be "lesser" than white people. However, white artist, Harriet Hosmer's original design of the monument was actually, at the time, depicted Black people in a more favorable light.
It was considered "too expensive," and featured Abraham Lincoln on middle pillar that stood taller above the rest, surrounded by other, smaller pillars featuring Civil War soldiers, both white and Black, on an even level.