New York City has announced that it will remove a statue of the 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt from its location in Manhattan, because of his views deemed colonialist and racist, a measure strongly criticized by Donald Trump.
This decision comes as the United States, after the death of George Floyd, are in full examination of conscience on the question of racism and have reopened the debate around monuments celebrating the country’s slave heritage. The bronze statue of “Teddy” Roosevelt, which has greeted visitors at the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History for 80 years, shows the former president, who served as governor of New York State before acceding to the White House, seated on a horse and overlooking a black man and a Native American walking by his side.
This monument, “has long been the subject of controversy because of its hierarchical composition,” said in a statement Sunday evening the museum, a famous tourist attraction in New York, located next to Central Park. “Many of us find the depiction of African and Native American characters and their positioning in this monument to be racist,” he added.
New York City has responded positively to the museum’s request to remove the statue, which “explicitly represents blacks and Native Americans as subjugated and racially inferior,” its mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. As the Natural History Museum website reminds us, Teddy Roosevelt was considered a progressive conservationist at the turn of the 20th century, but he also held racist views.
One of his descendants, Theodore Roosevelt IV, explained support for this decision. “The composition of the equestrian statue does not represent Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to remove this statue and move on,” he explained.
On the night of Sunday to Monday, the current Republican President Donald Trump, a fervent defender of Confederate monuments, criticized this decision, which he described as “ridiculous”. “Don’t do it!” He wrote in a tweet. The New York billionaire recently called for the arrest of protesters who shot down a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike in Washington.
Ridiculous, don’t do it! https://t.co/VYez8p9AJh
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2020