Amid renewed nationwide calls to do away with statues on public property that have connections to slavery or other atrocities, New York City Council has one more they believe needs to come down.
Speaker Corey Johnson, along with other members of the council including the co-chairs of the Black, Latino and Asian caucus, wrote a letter Thursday to Mayor Bill de Blasio demanding a Thomas Jefferson statue be removed from City Hall.
"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. That starts with City Hall," the letter from Johnson, Adrienne Adams, I. Daneek Miller, and fellow council members Deborah Rose and Inez D. Barron read.
"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 reomved," the letter continues. "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."
The statue (seen at far left in the photo above) is located in City Council chambers. It was not immediately clear if de Blasio intended to act on the letter.
The calls for removal come on the eve of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas finally learned they had been freed more than two years prior with President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made Juneteenth a holiday for state employees this year, and he said he'd seek to make it a state holiday as of 2021.