Some students at the University of Wisconsin are pushing for a statue of Abraham Lincoln to be removed from the Madison campus for his treatment of indigenous and black groups.
The Black Student Union and the Student Inclusion Coalition, both student organizations, called for the removal of the statue in early June, despite Lincoln ending slavery in the United States.
The Black Student Union argues that Lincoln's legacy also includes several actions that harmed people of color. He ordered the largest mass execution in United States history, 38 Dakota men hanged, and signed the Homestead Act, which gave settlers forcibly taken land from Native Americans, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
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"For him being on top of Bascom (Hill) as a powerful location on our campus is a symbol of one-handed white supremacy," said Black Student Union President Nalah McWhorter.
Opponents, including UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, have expressed concern about how far the goal of historical figures can go. In a statement to the newspaper, he acknowledged Lincoln's complex legacy.
"However, when considering his entire term, Lincoln is widely recognized as one of our greatest presidents, having issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he persuaded Congress to adopt the Thirteenth Amendment to end slavery and preserve the Union during the Civil War … I believe that Abraham Lincoln's legacy should not be erased but examined, that it should be celebrated and criticized, "Blank said.
The backlash against the statues and monuments of controversial figures has intensified in the weeks since George Floyd's death amid a nationwide racial trial.
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Some statues have been knocked down and others have been smashed. President Trump has criticized the vandals and pushed for anyone who is caught desecrating public monuments to be jailed. Last week, he signed an executive order to protect such properties.
Another Lincoln statue featuring him with a chained and kneeling African American in Washington D.C., has also scorned activists. Critics say the Emancipation Memorial communicates the subordination of the black man.
Jack Durschlag of Fox News contributed to this report.