Activists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison are demanding that the college tear down its statue of Abraham Lincoln over charges that he was “anti-black.”
President Lincoln, who declared war against the secessionist Confederacy and abolished slavery, is now “canceled” over historically illiterate charges that the president opposed equal rights for blacks.
Nalah McWhorter, the president of the Wisconsin Black Student Union, claims that Lincoln’s opposition to slavery and subsequent abolition of the heinous practice in US law did little to exonerate his alleged hatred towards black people.
The charges contradict contemporary accounts of President Lincoln, whose personal dealings with blacks did not reveal prejudice.
“He was very publicly anti-Black,” said McWhorter. “Just because he was anti-slavery doesn’t mean he was pro-Black. 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.”
While Lincoln did not pass laws to provide blacks with equality, the Republican president was tied down by contemporary politics that prevented him from doing so without the support of the white majority.
Lincoln stated during that time that equal coexistence between blacks and whites was not possible, but advanced that the reason was “physical,” not moral or intellectual, according to historian Eric Foner in his book The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.
American society remained stratified for a century, and proper coexistence would only be established following the popularity of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
UW Madison Chancellor Becky Blank disagreed with McWhorter’s demands and says that the statue should remain on campus.
“The university continues to support the Abraham Lincoln statue on our campus. Like those of all presidents, Lincoln’s legacy is complex and contains actions which, 150 years later, appear flawed,” Blank said. “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 perservedthe Union during the Civil War.”
Calls to tear down the Lincoln statue in the university followcalls to demolish The Emancipation Memorial in Washington DC, which is meant to commemorate the Lincoln’s freeing of slaves in 1863 in his proclamation abolishing slavery in the US. Funds to build the memorial, which was erected in 1876, were raised entirely from freed slaves, including black veterans in the Union Army.