Urging Removal of a Symbol of Hate

City Council member Mark Levine (at podium) with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at left and Congressman Adriano Espaillat at right. The statue of Sims is visible in the rear. (Photo via Manhattan Times)

Local politicians and leaders gathered on Aug. 21 at Fifth Ave. and 103rd St. to urge the removal from that location of a memorial to Dr. James Marion Sims, a white South Carolina native know as the “father of modern gynecology,” who is reported to have performed experimental surgeries on Black enslaved women he had purchased. The surgeries were conducted without anesthesia as Sims argued that Black women “did not feel pain,” reports Manhattan Times.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Congressman Adriano Espaillat were among those who spoke up against the “tasteless tribute” to Sims.

“At a time when neo-Nazis, white nationalists and hateful right wing extremists run rampant throughout the country with impunity, we must send a definitive message that the despicable acts of J. Marion Sims are repugnant and reprehensible,” said Mark-Viverito, who has called for the statue’s removal since 2011. “J. Marion Sims conducted horrific, painful, medical atrocities on non-anesthetized enslaved black women with free rein.”

“Hateful symbols and monuments in honor of individuals such as Sims, are a constant reminder of the suffering and pain that African-Americans and communities of color have endured for generations,” added Espaillat. “We must remove these symbols of hate from our community once and for all.”

City Council member Mark Levine also spoke about the statue and the history it represents.

“Slavery wasn’t just an affliction on the south, it’s also a moral stain on the history of the north,” said Levine, Chair of the Council’s Parks Committee. “A man who took advantage of enslaved women who were unable to give consent for medical experiments, does not deserve to be memorialized in our city’s parks.”

Two days before politicians spoke in favor of the statue’s removal, community activists had denounced the statue. Go to Manhattan Times to read more about Sims and the statue, and about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s planned 90-day review of “symbols of hate” on New York City property.

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