Thomas Jefferson Descendant Calls For Removal Of His Famous Ancestor's Statues
Shannon Lanier, a direct descendant of President Thomas Jefferson in the ninth generation, believes that statues of the founding father would be better kept in museums.
Lanier, who works as a journalist and is related to Jefferson through the third president's relationship with the enslaved wife Sally Hemings, wrote his thoughts in a newsweek editorial, arguing that Jefferson was "a participant in the institution of slavery - perhaps the most notorious of them the founding fathers, not least because of the stark contrast between what he practiced and what he preached. "
In the play, Lanier emphasized that while he respected Jefferson's accomplishments, including drafting the Declaration of Independence and fulfilling the purchase in Louisiana, the man "still had over 600 people against their will, knew it was wrong, but they did." never let go ".
Lanier added that statues of slave owners like Jefferson have remained largely untouched to "remind people of the color of their" degraded "place in society."
“Public statues and monuments such as those by Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and Christopher Columbus ... are symbols of hate, racism and slavery for many people. and when we honor and celebrate them in public arenas, we accidentally give them and their actions validity and power, ”Lanier wrote.
“A statue alone only provides content, but a museum environment would make it possible to have context. We need to remember our history, not to erase our complicated past, but to preserve it and learn from it, while understanding where these numbers fit into the structure of our country. Thomas Jefferson feels that we have to grow and change with our time. "
Lanier's editorial takes place amid repeated calls in the United States to remove public monuments related to slavery and the confederacy. On Sunday, a statue of Jefferson was blurred and demolished after a night of protest in front of a school named after him in Portland, Oregon.
Other odes to Jefferson in public areas include the 2018 University of Virginia statue, the Jefferson statue at the Rotunda Capitol in Washington, DC, the entire Jefferson Memorial, and countless other smaller monuments across the country.
On Thursday, members of the New York City Council wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking for the removal of a Thomas Jefferson statue from City Hall.
"The statue of Thomas Jefferson in the City Council chambers is inadequate and serves as a constant reminder of the injustices that have plagued the color communities since our country was founded," said the letter, spoken by spokesman Corey Johnson and four other members of the council was signed. "Jefferson is America's best-known slave owner ... and a scholar who claimed that the blacks were inferior to the whites."
During his lifetime, Jefferson "made some legislative attempts against slavery and sometimes complained about its existence, [but] he also benefited directly from the institution of slavery and wrote that he suspected blacks were inferior to whites," said Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
The fathering of the six children of Hemings, previously discussed by historians, is now regarded by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation as an "established historical matter". Prior to the opening of a curated section of the Monticello estate dedicated to Hemings in 2018, the foundation made a statement citing "a substantial amount of evidence from 1802 to 1873 (and beyond) in which Thomas Jefferson was described as the father of the children by Sally Hemings. ”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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