American Museum of Natural History to remove iconic statue of Teddy Roosevelt, following protests

For several years demonstrators have been campaigning for the statue's removal, citing the image's "patriarchy, white supremacy and settler-colonialism."

Last Updated:
June 22, 2020 - 2:40pm

Officials in New York City have announced that the statue of President Theodore Roosevelt that stands in front of the American Museum of Natural History will be removed, citing claims that the statue embodies themes of colonial expansion and racial discrimination.

The statue has stood outside the Museum's main Central Park West entrance for 80 years. It depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and an African man standing on either side of the horse.

"The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue," read a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Roosevelt when governor of  New York frequently had Black guests to his home for dinner and occasionally invited them to spend the night.

Shortly after being elected president and occupying the White House, Roosevelt invited his adviser Booker T. Washington, also a leader of the country’s African-American community, to have dinner with the first family.

The Oct. 16, 1901, dinner party resulted in condemnation for southern politicians, among them Democratic Sens. James Vardaman, of Mississippi, and Benjamin Tillman, of South Carolina.

"We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism. Simply put, the time has come to move it," the museum's president, Ellen Futter, said in a recent interview with The New York Times.

In 2017, the statue was vandalized with red paint, and a statement was published calling for its removal as an image of "patriarchy, white supremacy and settler-colonialism."

It has not yet been determined when the statue will be removed or where it will go. 

Futter said that the museum will now move to name their Hall of Biodiversity for Roosevelt "in recognition of his conservation legacy."

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