‘When the totality of his tenure is considered, Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of our greatest presidents…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) University of Wisconsin students are demanding that the campus’s statue of Abraham Lincoln be removed, arguing that Lincoln’s fight against slavery doesn’t mean he was “pro-black.”
.@UWMadison Chancellor @beckyblank‘s statement on call to remove Pres. Lincoln statue on campus. She says the university believes “deeply in justice and equity for all people” & says they are in talks for Ho-Chunk land acknowledgement, but they think the statue should stay. pic.twitter.com/8vwXZTDSCX
— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) June 25, 2020
The statue of Lincoln has sat atop the university’s Bascom Hill for more than a century and is often used as a backdrop for graduate photos, according to WISC-TV. But some members of the university’s Black Student Union claimed last week that the statue fails to mention Lincoln’s past comments on racial equality.
“He was also very publicly anti-black,” BSU president Nalah McWhorter said.
“Just because he was anti-slavery doesn’t mean he was pro-black,” McWhorter continued. “He said a lot in his presidential campaigns. His fourth presidential campaign speech, he said that he believes there should be an inferior and superior, and he believes white people should be the superior race.”
Lincoln’s opinion on racial equality evolved throughout his political career, and it was radically different by the time he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. His was a “complex” legacy, said the school’s chancellor, Becky Blank.
“Like those of all presidents, Lincoln’s legacy is complex and contains actions which, 150 years later, appear flawed,” she said in response to students’ demands.
“However, when the totality of his tenure is considered, Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of our greatest presidents, having issued the Emancipation Proclamation, persuaded Congress to adopt the 13th Amendment ending slavery and preserved the Union during the Civil War,” she added.
As of right now, the school will not support efforts to remove Lincoln’s statue on campus, according to Blank’s statement.
Students then accused the University of Wisconsin of siding with a “breathless, lifeless statue” over its black students.
“For them to want to protect [Lincoln’s] statue more than they care about the experiences of their black students that have been crying out for help for the past 50 to 60 years—it’s just a horrible feeling as a student, as a black and brown student on campus,” McWhorter said.