An iconic statue of President Theodore Roosevelt, which has greeted visitors outside the doors of New York City’s American Museum of Natural History for 80 years, is being removed after years of complaints.
Critics have charged that the statue – which features Roosevelt sitting atop a horse with a Native American man standing on one side and an African man standing on the other – glorifies colonialism and represents racial hierarchy.
I sometimes show my students the statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside the Natural History museum in NY b/c it articulates the connections b/w domestic imperialism, western expansion, of overseas imperialism so well and grotesquely pic.twitter.com/VMKBMm07sY
The move comes at an unprecedented time of heightened social and racial awareness in the U.S. The statue had been prominently displayed on the Central Park West entrance to the museum.
“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said in a statement to CNN. “The city supports the museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
While it was meant to celebrate Roosevelt as a “devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history,” the statue also “communicates a racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing,” a press release on the museum’s website said.
No date has been set for the removal, and the mayor’s office is still working to determine the next steps, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told CNN Sunday.
“To understand the statue, we must recognize our country’s enduring legacy of racial discrimination — as well as Roosevelt’s troubling views on race,” the museum press release said. “We must also acknowledge the museum’s own imperfect history. Such an effort does not excuse the past but it can create a foundation for honest, respectful, open dialogue.”
Among the many offering an opinion?
President Donald J. Trump.
Ridiculous, don’t do it! https://t.co/VYez8p9AJh
The American Museum of Natural History said it will name a wing after Theodore Roosevelt to honor his efforts as a conservationist and wildlife activist.
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