City to Relocate Statue of Controversial Doctor

The statue of J. Marion Sims will be moving from Central Park to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of the NYC Parks Department via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Following recommendations by the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, Bill de Blasio announced the decisions on the fate of four controversial monuments and markers. The Canyon of Heroes/Henri Philippe Pétain plaque on Broadway, the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle, and the Theodore Roosevelt statue at the American Museum of Natural History will remain in place, with educational markers and signage to be added.

The statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims in Central Park, on the other hand, will be relocated to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn where the doctor, who operated on Black enslaved women in the 1800s, is buried. Manhattan Times covered a rally over the summer during which officials and community leaders urged the removal of the “symbol of hate.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Mary Frost reports on what will accompany the statue at its new location.

After it’s installed at Green-Wood, the mayor said the city will take additional steps to inform the public about the history of the statue, including the legacy of non-consensual medical experimentation on women of color. Informational plaques will be added both to the relocated statue and existing pedestal.

In addition, the city will commission new artwork to sit on the existing Sims pedestal — for example, a prominent woman of color in science and medicine.

The city will also partner with a community organization to promote “public dialogues” on the frightening history of medical experimentation of people of color, particularly women.

For more on the South Carolina native referred to as the “father of modern gynecology” and how, according to Frost, his “legacy is not entirely black and white,” go to Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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