The New York City Council approved this Monday to remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson who had presided over the boardroom for over 100 years, expelling one of America’s founding fathers and first author of the Declaration of Independence for his slave-owning past.
On Monday, a commission from the New York City Council voted unanimously in favor of removing the Jefferson statue from the boardroom, which had more than 600 slaves and had six children with one of them, Sally Hemings. The president of the city council, Corey Johnson, spearheaded the effort to remove the statue in the summer of 2020 with a letter to De Blasio. Johnson wrote that he and black, Latino and Asian members of the City Council found it “inappropriate.”
For some years now, councilors of Latino and black origin had timidly called for his withdrawal. After much discussion, on Monday they decided to transfer it to the New York Historical Society. “Jefferson represents some of the most shameful parts of our country’s long and nuanced historyCouncilwoman Adrienne Adams said.
In testifying in favor of removing the statue, Councilwoman Inez Barron said that the slavers acted as a kind of “pimp” so that plantations could expand and profits could “increase.” He also said that Jefferson enacted some of the first expulsion measures against Native Americans, which contributed to the “ethnic cleansing and genocidal replacement” of Native peoples. «We are not being revisionists. We are not waging a war against history. We are saying that we want to make sure the full story is told, that there are no half-truths and that we are not perpetuating lies, “Barron said.
Councilor Adrienne Adams He said that he “immediately noticed the statue of Thomas Jefferson” after being chosen, and called the statue one of the “most prominent” in the room of New York City Council meetings. “He … compared the very idea of freeing slaves from captivity to the abandonment of children,” he said, noting the relationship Jefferson had with an enslaved teenager with whom he had up to six children.
The debate over the Jefferson statue is part of a national movement that arose in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died asphyxiated under the knee of a policeman and who promoted the movement Black Lives Matters (Black lives matter), as well as the racial inequalities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, and the debate over whether Confederate monuments should be removed.
The statue, made in plaster following the Jefferson bronze model that is exhibited in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, was commissioned in 1833 by Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish Commodore in the US Navy, to commemorate the support of one of the nation’s fathers for religious freedom in the military.