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Teddy Roosevelt

Did you see in the New York Times that the statue of Teddy Roosevelt that strides in front of the Museum of Natural History here in New York will be moved?

I wrote about it at Thanksgiving time, 2018. Not to say I told you so, but I addressed the issues that Ellen Futter, the museum's president has raised.

Here's what she said;

“We believe that moving the statue can be a symbol of progress in our commitment to build and sustain an inclusive and equitable society. Our view has been evolving. This moment crystallized our thinking and galvanized us to action."

Theodore Roosevelt IV, a great-grandson of the 26th president said: “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."

The Art Students League weighed in because the artist, James Earle Fraser, taught there from 1907 to 1914. They said he is far better known for an entirely different piece, End of The Trail, which depicts the suffering caused to Native Americans by Euro-American settlement.

Here's what I wrote in 2018.

Then there’s the statue of Teddy Rosevelt standing in the center of his memorial on the Eastern facing side of the Museum. His figure, heroic on horseback, is flanked by two men on foot, an African and a Native American. They were intended by the artist to be allegorical figures of Africa and North America, expressing TR’s love for the two great continents and his friendliness toward all races. Today they make us cringe at the implicit racism. The same work of art seen in two different times evokes very different responses. I decided not to draw the two men. Was that the right choice? Should I have honored them by not ignoring them or would I be seen as racist as well?

And here's a link to the entire post.

June 25, 2020

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