Not Even Civil Rights Icon Frederick Douglass Is Safe: Statue Torn Down And Removed

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Not even civil rights icon Frederick Douglass is safe amid an ongoing movement to tear down historical monuments and statues as his statue in Rochester, New York, was torn down and removed from its pedestal.

The Associated Press reports the incident occurred on the anniversary of his famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.”

From the report:

Police said the statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom.

The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge about 50 feet (15 meters) from its pedestal, police said. There was damage to the base and a finger.

In Rochester on July 5, 1852, Douglass gave the speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” in which he called the celebration of liberty a sham in a nation that enslaves and oppresses its Black citizens.

As Rochester First reports, police are continuing to investigate the incident.

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Leaders from Re-energize the legacy of Frederick Douglass expressed frustration that the statue they put effort into erecting was destroyed and would need to be replaced.

Project Director Carvin Eison said, “This is all that is left at this particularly moment of a monument that we put so much work and thought and love and care into.”

“What comes of this? Is this some type of retaliation because of the national fever over confederate monuments right now? Very disappointing its beyond disappointing,” he added.

And, from the report:

The statue was one of 13 placed throughout the city in 2018, and this is the second monument to be vandalized.

Julius Jackson Jr. was there for the first incident, which involved drunk college students, and he is hoping the recent act is also one of unintended mischief.

“We’ve been down this road before I actually spoke to the vandals of the first one,” said Rev. Julius D Jackson Jr., Alpha phi aplah fraternity. “I would like to believe it’s not that, it was just some kids. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s some retaliatory, something going on.”

Maplewood Park was picked for the monument because of the link to the underground railroad.


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