Abraham Lincoln, Boston, Tori Bullock discussed on Here & Now

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

And if you can, I'm gonna ask you to go now to hear now dot or to look at a picture of a statue. If you can't I'll describe it. It's Boston's post Civil War Emancipation Memorial replica of one in Washington, D C by sculptor Thomas Ball. You may be familiar with both. But if not, it's huge. Abraham Lincoln in Brown bronze, standing towering next to a kneeling, cowering black man. Lincoln's arm is stretched out over the man's head, as if what protecting him blessing him, gesturing for him to get up. The black man, a former slave has broken shackles on his wrists and ankles. He looks tentative. Maybe about his unfamiliar future. In my mind, he's about to stand freed by Lincoln's bloody civil war. An inscription reads a race set free and a country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labours. I must admit when I read that, and I often do I love this statue. I do have a little flash of We'll talk about resting from your labors. Perhaps the slave is the one who's really tired. But anyway, that's why I always saw Lincoln helping a new nation to its feet. Makes me cry. What do you see? And what does Tori Bullock see? He's a Boston musician and activist. I am white. He is black. Tori. What do you see in the Emancipation Memorial? I see a beautiful piece of work. I see great craftsmanship, and I also see a grown black man looking like he is a coffee table or a pet. I see large white man standing over this black man, fully clothed attention to detail is impeccable. He has actual eyeballs with Cuba booth and everything in it. His beard is everything and then the man beneath him the slave Is pretty much nude. For the most part. He has ah little cloth covering his waist. But he still has shackles on his wrists, even though they're not necessarily shackled to the ground. I still have shackles. Andi, even though it doesn't for me, it doesn't look like he's about to get up. It looks like he is frozen in time forever on his knees. This man will never stand. He will always be on his knees. So for me, I see a white savior, helping people who would have never been able to do it on their own. Story since hearing from you about this. I've spoken to other friends, a black adult friend who talks about bringing his child by the statue. And how horrible a moment it is for the child to see that And he has to explain what that is That man on his knees Have you always had this reaction to the statue? It's funny because they felt as though you were describing my experience when I was a child, because that's the exact same experience I had with the statue. I remember the first time I saw downtown. This highly controversial piece of art is nothing nestled right in parks, where in Boston between Marciano's and legal seafood So I was on my way down there with my family will get something to eat. And I've really remember seeing the statue seeing a person that looked just like me on his knees. So that's a journey that started when I was a child, and I'm a grown man and it's still sitting with me. Explain that sitting with you. You sounds like you almost have a physical reaction. There is a physical reaction, I think. Well, it was very jarring when I first saw it as a child, like, Whoa, What is this, But being completely honest, now is kind of just numb. On a numb dulling. Why is it still up emotion whenever I see it whenever I pass it, It just really reminds me of what people's perception of me is on, and it feels less about It feels less about. Hey, you should remember. You're you're proud ancestors, proud history and it feels more about used to remember your place because you're beneath me. Well, Charlie Bullock because of you. I've been seeing this statue through new eyes. You know, none of this occurred to me. I'm willing and kind of embarrassed to say you started a petition to take the statue down. It's gone national. Thousands have signed it. Boston is having a public comment meeting tomorrow night. Over the weekend, there were protests at the original statue in Washington. The president says he has issued an order for penalties for anyone who takes down a federal monument. But there already is a law in place, The park Service says. Any removal has to go through Congress. But you know, there are also dissenting voices, and many are black and descendants of the real black man in the statue's name is Archer Alexander. You know this? A slave who actually helped the union during the Civil war running miles to tell union soldiers when he overheard his owner say, a bridge is going to be blown up. He's not named on the statue. That's a problem. But it's thought to be the first statue of an African American in this country Freed black slaves paid for it. Is any of that, you know, maybe alter your view? No, not at all, actually being completely that That's one of the main arguments I hear people have is that Hey, guys, You should be proud of this. This is this is your story of our trial. Alexander. It really makes me feel like so if he's really one of the most powerful African American figures that we have in our history, why do we have a statue of him naked? No one would ever want to see if a statue of president leading without a shirt and pants alone and in terms of the we paid for it Argument. My favorite response to that is actually a quote. If you don't mind me, reading it right now sure is the $17,000 raised for the memorial was an enormous sum coming from a newly emancipated people..

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