NYC commission votes to move City Hall Thomas Jefferson statue to New-York Historical Society

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Thomas Jefferson statue in City Hall

In this July 14, 2010 photo, a statue of Thomas Jefferson, right, stands under the peeling ceiling in New York’s City Hall Council Chamber. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

MANHATTAN — After it was voted to remove the Thomas Jefferson statue in the New York City Council’s chambers at City Hall, the commission approved plans Monday to relocate it to the New-York Historical Society.

The New York City Public Design Commission unanimously voted to approve the long-term loan of the statue to the Upper West Side museum.

The commission voted last month to remove the statue, which stood inside City Hall since 1833.

Since then, the bronze painted plaster statue of the third president of the United States and writer of the Declaration of Independence, has watched over the lawmakers of New York City.

The City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian caucus has long objected to its presence because Jefferson wasn’t just a U.S. president or a founding father, he was also a lifelong slave owner, which is a major part of why many people have objected to him being upheld as an American icon.

Assemblymember Charles Barron and his wife, City Councilmember Inez Barron, led the fight to remove the statue. They want City Hall to memorialize people who better reflect New York’s history and diversity.

“At last, the Public Design Commission voted decisively and overwhelmingly to remove the statue of Thomas Jefferson from our People’s House, but this alone does not constitute the relief that we seek. We insist that the Administration, City Council, and New York Historical Society work in concert to expedite the statue’s removal from Council Chambers, and do so before the Council conducts its Stated Meeting of Tuesday, November 23, 2021. Each day it is allowed to linger there serves as a reminder to our members of the horrors perpetrated against Blacks and Indigenous Peoples by revered figures – like Jefferson – who were instrumental in America’s creation, but also known practitioners of slavery that espoused white supremacist beliefs. Such individuals are no longer worthy of exaltation in an era where the ancestors of those they subjugated now hold the very seats of power derived from the systems of government they established. While there may be ambivalence and a lack of consensus among scholars, historians, and even our fellow New Yorkers about the merits of memorializing this flawed Founding Father in the halls of our government, we are nonetheless resolute in our determination to have his likeness expelled. We should have sovereignty over the symbols and imagery displayed in the place where we conduct business on behalf of more than 8 million New Yorkers, more than two-thirds of whom are persons of color, and the will of our members should be respected,” the New York City Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus said in a statement.

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