Published: Thu, April 19, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Hattie Nash

Controversial Central Park statue moved to Brooklyn cemetery

Controversial Central Park statue moved to Brooklyn cemetery

A statue dedicated to a controversial doctor who had experimented on enslaved women was removed Tuesday from Central Park.

The statue of Sims had been identified as a "symbol of hate" by a mayoral commission charged with studying local monuments in the wake of a national reckoning over Confederate statues and other artwork that some communities might find offensive, such as statues of Christopher Columbus. The city's Public Design Commission voted to remove it last night, clearing the final bureaucratic hurdle for today's extraction.

The 1890s statue was installed across the street from the New York Academy of Medicine in 1934, with a plaque praising Sims' "brilliant achievement".

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A commission recommended in January that the statue of J. Marion Sims be relocated from Central Park to a Brooklyn cemetery, where Sims is buried, and steps be taken to explain the legacy of a man considered the father of modern gynecology. Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed. Harlem resident, Mercy Wellington, said she was happy the doctor's image would no longer be honored in such a public way.

"I feel that my ancestors can rest", she told the newspaper.

The decision was ultimately driven by Sims' decision to surgically operate without anesthesia on 12 enslaved black women between 1845 and 1849, DNAInfo reported. It emphasized that a reckoning with history means not just removing controversial statues, but also adding "representation of overlooked histories". "And in the end, he claims to have cured one of them".

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Moyland says the cemetery is home to many prominent historical figures.

The three that are, Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy - along with the unnamed victims - have been suggested as possible replacements for Sims' former statue in Central Park. City government officials are now taking an "additive approach" to the removal, and plan to build another statue in Sims' place, according to Finkelpearl.

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