The statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt, who served as the 26th President of the United States, has graced the Central Park West entrance of the New York City’s Museum of Natural History since 1940.
Now, the bronze statue which portrays Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, with a Native American man and an African man standing on either side, is being removed.
For many people, the statue represents colonial expansion and years of racial discrimination.
“Over the last few weeks, our museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd,” said Ellen V. Futter, the museum’s president in a statement to the New York Times.
“We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism,” she added.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio agrees with the decision to remove the statue, citing that “It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”
Mayor de Blasio explained in a statement, “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.”
Among the people who also support the decision to remove the statue is a great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt.
The 77-year-old great-grandson, Theodore Roosevelt IV explained, “The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice.” Roosevelt added, “The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward.”
The museum has not announced when the statue will be removed or where it will be moved to.
Responses on Twitter to the removal of the Roosevelt statue varied, with many noting that it is not Roosevelt being removed, but rather the demeaning portrayal of Blacks and Indigenous people that have caused concern for years. However, one person, @Jeffrey_Marty asked – “pick your fighter” showing a statue of Roosevelt next to a photo of a Satanic statue of Baphomet that was erected and placed in front of the Arkansas Capitol building.
I suspect if this were the only statue of America’s history – a history both good and bad – being removed then some might argue for a new statue of Roosevelt in NYC. The question seems to be are we removing one statue that has attracted concern for years or is this just another part of an ongoing movement to erase U.S. history?
John Carney, a Breitbart Finance & Economics contributor, suggests that this is about who is in power and who is writing history:
The American Museum of Natural History provided a history of the statue, including “What did the artists and planners intend?” and “Addressing The Statue” which discusses that the decision to remove the Roosevelt Equestrian Statue was part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s establishment of a commission in 2017 to “evaluate a number of controversial monuments around the city, including the Roosevelt statue.” The city determined that the Roosevelt statue would remain in place but that more information should be provided. The museum states that the artist’s intent was to represent “a heroic group” of three men.” The sculptor wrote that the two men were guides and could be seen to stand for “Roosevelt’s friendliness to all races.” The museum then states that “the meaning of these figures is complicated and hard to untangle.”