“We Feel Very Betrayed”: Community Protests Replacement for J. Marion Sims MonumentHistorians in the News
tags: New York, culture, womens history
A New York City hearing to celebrate the replacement for the removed J. Marion Sims monument in Central Park on Saturday, October 5, erupted into chaos after local stakeholders objected to a vote by a panel of judges appointed by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). A panel of seven judges voted 4 to 3 in favor of a proposal submitted by the artist Simone Leigh, but many community activists were in favor of Vinnie Bagwell’s proposal. Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, has called the judges’ decision “advisory.”
In December of 2018, the City of New York published an open call for artists to propose sculptural artworks that would replace a contested monument for Sims, a 19th-century gynecologist who conducted brutal experimental surgeries on enslaved Black women without using anesthesia. The chosen finalists were the artists Simone Leigh, Wangechi Mutu, Kehinde Wiley, and Vinnie Bagwell. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs invited the public to vote for the proposals by October 4, but the local activists in East Harlem accuse the city of ignoring the community’s will.
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