NYC Council Removes Thomas Jefferson Statue, Citing Slavery

Washington D.C., statue of Thomas Jefferson. This image does not represent the statue mentioned in the story. [Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously Monday to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from the New York City Council chambers.

The committee, which oversees the city’s collection of public art, voted to remove the statue after a more than 20-year-effort by councilmembers, according to CNN.

The statue will be moved to a new location by the end of the year after the council votes to find a better place, according to the report. Councilmembers cited Jefferson’s slave-owning history as the reason for the statue removal.

“We’re not being revisionist, we’re not waging war on history,” Councilmember Inez Barron said, according to CNN. “We’re saying that we want to make sure that the total story is told.”

Councilmember and co-chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus Adrienne Adams noted Jefferson was a “slaveholder who owned over 600 human beings,” according to CNN. (RELATED: Trump Reads List Of Statues Commission Wants Removed From Washington – Then Throws Away Letter)

“It makes me deeply uncomfortable knowing that we sit in the presence of a statue that pays homage to a slaveholder who fundamentally believed that people who look like me were inherently inferior, lacked intelligence, and were not worthy of freedom or rights,” Adams said.

The statue was created by Pierre-Jean David D’Angers and dates back to 1833. The statue was commissioned by Navy Officer Uriah Phillips Levy in 1833 to honor Jefferson for creating religious freedom within the armed forces, according to the outlet.

Speaker Corey Johnson and other city council members called on Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in June of 2020 to remove Jefferson’s statue following nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

“In the last few weeks, New Yorkers have called on all of us in elected office to make bold change so that communities of color feel heard, protected and represented … There are disturbing images of divisiveness and racism in our City that need to be revisited immediately,” a letter from Johnson and others read, according to NBC 4.

“The statue of Thomas Jefferson in the City Council Chambers is inappropriate and serves as a constant reminder of the injustices that have plagued communities of color since the inception of our country. It must be removed,” the letter reportedly continued. “Jefferson is America’s most noted slave holder, a man who owned more than 600 Black women and men and a scholar who maintained that Blacks were inferior to whites.”