New York State

The push to remove racist statues in New York

Recent protests have sparked renewed interest in what to do about some of the state’s problematic monuments.

The Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle.

The Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle. Frank Franklin II/AP/Shutterstock

In a handful of states, statues that reflect the history of racism in the U.S. are being toppled and removed from public spaces in light of the ongoing protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

This has sparked a renewed interest in removing several statues of figures that represent white supremacy throughout New York. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has already ordered a statue of Philip Schuyler, who was a U.S. senator, a general during the American Revolution and owned 17 slaves, to be removed from outside of Albany City Hall, an issue that was raised by the city’s diversity officer last year. An online petition is circulating to rename Columbus Circle and have the statue of Christopher Columbus removed from the plaza.

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo again defended Columbus statues in the state by saying they are a point of Italian American pride. “I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support, but the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “For that reason, I support it.”

This isn’t the first time that New Yorkers have called on lawmakers to reconsider some of its problematic monuments. Last year, Cuomo dismissed calls to remove the Columbus Circle statue and rename the plaza. He also criticized New York City first lady Chirlane McCray for not building a statue of Mother Frances Cabrini.

In 2018, McCray announced that the city would be installing new statues of women and people of color to create greater diversity in statue representation throughout the city. The first lady created the She Built NYC campaign, which asked city residents to nominate female historical figures that had a major impact on New York to have statues made in their honor.

Mother Cabrini received more nominations than anyone else, but McCray decided to have statues made of Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Billie Holiday, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Katherine Walker, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. This infuriated many Italian Americans and Cuomo stepped in and said the state would spend $750,000 to have a statue of Mother Cabrini erected in the city. The statue scandal also led to the resignation of city Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, who reportedly felt he was being forced to take the fall for the first lady’s misstep.

The city and state have been debating what to do about its more contentious monuments and statues for years. In 2017, de Blasio created a commission to review the city’s monuments commemorating problematic historical figures. However, the commission only recommended removing a single statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims.

Sims, known as the “father of gynecology,” practiced in the 1800s and performed experiments on enslaved black women without their consent and without using anesthesia. His Central Park statue was put into storage at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the destination for the Dr. J. Marion Sims statue after it was removed from Central Park.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.