• Sara Rimer

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Sara Rimer

    Sara Rimer spent 26 years as a reporter at the New York Times, where she wrote about education, the death penalty, immigration, and aging in America, and was the New England bureau chief. The Times nominated her for the Pulitzer Prize. Her coverage of the death penalty was cited by the Supreme Court in its 2002 ruling outlawing the execution of developmentally disabled individuals. Profile

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There is 1 comment on How a BU Art History Scholar Helped Boston Rethink Its Emancipation Memorial

  1. It’s hard for me to see how removing a statue that celebrates the historical fact of Lincoln’s role in emancipating the slaves, and labeling it racist, is somehow striking a blow for civil rights and equality. The statue commemorates what was perhaps the most important presidential contribution to civil rights for black Americans in our country’s history. Lincoln was flawed. There was and still is a long way to go on the civil rights front. However, as a BU graduate, I find the fact that BU is celebrating this short-sighted cancel-culture mentality to be embarrassing to say the least.

    The interview indicates that the Lincoln statue “erases the truth that enslaved people fought for their freedom”. This seem like a simplistic and reductive view of the piece. How precisely does it erase black heroism? It honors Lincoln. Honoring Lincoln with one statue does not preclude the city of Boston from simultaneously celebrating the fact that black slaves fought for their freedom. Instead of removing the statue, why not put up a new one in an adjacent spot, or in another suitable location, depicting and celebrating the efforts of the slaves to seek freedom? Why can’t the focus be additive rather than subtractive?

    Just a short distance from the Lincoln statue, there is in fact a monument to African Americans who took up arms and fought slavery. It’s the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry regiment on the Boston Common, which proudly memorializes the bravery, sacrifice, and heroism of black soldiers during the Civil War who put their lives at risk to fight for a country that did not appreciate them, and to free their fellow men. During recent protests, it was vandalized – shamefully. A statue of Frederick Douglass was also recently vandalized, shamefully. The advocates of cancel culture are either poorly informed or have poor aim, indeed. Alternately, perhaps there is nothing pure enough to pass their ideological purity test.

    I shudder to think of what the referenced “exciting new public artwork” to be commissioned in place of the Lincoln statue would look like at this point. Given the short-sighted, hyper-partisan cultural moment, and the involvement of people like those profiled in this piece, I doubt it will be very “exciting”, at least to any reasonable person.

    For those who accuse the left of trying to erase/censor history, taking this statue down would provide all the grist they could ever hope to grind. To apply ideological purity standards of the present to a piece that commemorates the specific worthy actions of flawed past human beings seems childish and sets a dangerous precedent.

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