The statue of Frederick Douglass was taken off its base, say police in Rochester, New York. It “had been placed over the fence to the gorge and was leaning against the fence” on the side of the river, authorities said in a Democrat & Chronicle report. The bottom of the statue, the base, and a finger on the left hand had been damaged, cops said.
No suspects have been announced.
Statues of Civil War-era and antebellum figures (and Christopher Columbus) have been controversial for a good while now. Critics say the displays glorify racists and white supremacist domination of Black and brown people. Vandalism of such statues is widely reported. Those tend to be of decidedly controversial figures, including slaveowning General Robert E. Lee.
The story about Douglass’ life is very different: He escaped from slavery, unequivocally pushed for abolition, started The North Star newspaper in Rochester, supported voting rights for women, recruited for the Union army, and fought for Black soldiers to be treated fairly. Excepts of his 1852 speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” recently went viral on social media.
“The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine”
-Frederick Douglass, 1852 pic.twitter.com/ba2hPlj2y7
— National Museum of American History (@amhistorymuseum) July 4, 2020
Frederick Douglass was the most photographed man of his era. Can only imagine how proud he would be to know his young descendants were on film reading his words.
WATCH: ‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’ By Frederick Douglass : NPR https://t.co/oGR1nqhqIn
— Michele Norris (@michele_norris) July 4, 2020
So, yeah, it sticks out when it’s his statue getting knocked down. Then again, it’s not unheard of in recent days to see the statues of Black figures vandalized. A statue of trailblazing tennis player Arthur Ashe was defaced last month in Richmond, Virginia with spray paint stating “WLM” and “White Lives Matter.”
[Screengrab via WROC]
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