Key Board Approves Removing Teddy Roosevelt Statue

Photo by Lily Goldberg.

The New York City Public Design Commission voted unanimously this week to approve the removal of the Teddy Roosevelt Statue from in front of the Museum of Natural History, though it’s still unclear where the statue will go. The museum had requested its removal after protests about the depiction of the former president flanked by a Native American and Black man beneath him. Because it’s on city property, the city had the final say.

“It has become clear that removing the statue would be a symbol of progress toward an inclusive and equitable community,” Dan Slippen, vice president of government relations at the museum, said at the meeting, according to the Times.

At Monday’s meeting, made public as a YouTube video, Sam Biederman of the New York City Parks Department said that although the statue “was not erected with malice of intent,” its composition “supports a thematic framework of colonization and racism.”

Once the statue is removed, the spot will be replaced by steps similar to the ones around it, city reps said at an earlier meeting.

NEWS | 56 comments | permalink
    1. Gws says:

      Replace it with a statue of George Floyd

    2. Fred's Boil says:

      God Bless you America, you are coming to grips with your extraordinarily racist history, and rectifying it one step at a time.
      This is fulfilling the promise of equality, equity, and equanimity.

      • Alex M says:

        Obviously you don’t know squat about history and nothing about Roosevelt’s history. You see a statue and your visual cue leads you to the completely wrong conclusion. Read up a bit, educate yourself and maybe you will change your mind. However, I really doubt that. He was as far from racist tendencies as they come.

        • Harris S says:

          I admire many characteristics about Teddy Roosevelt, but did you actually read any of the Edmund Morris Teddy biographies??? It certainly doesn’t sound like it.

          It’s pretty clear from all three volumes that he believed in a racial hierarchy. It’s nice and all that he expressed a hope that white western society would take it upon itself to uplift less fortunate peoples. My impression is this view was relatively common among more educated, cosmopolitan and “enlightened” types of the time, but it’s definitely unacceptable by today’s standards.

          That being said, most people’s issues with the statue are less about Roosevelt himself and more about the pretty blatant picture of hierarchy and imbalance portrayed by him high up on a horse with two representatives of historically oppressed groups standing beneath him. Perhaps an artist could find a way to make a new statue that has all three figures shown in a more balanced fashion.

      • America never promised equity. Equality yes. Equity
        Is not freedom. Equity is communism. Be careful what you wish for.

    3. Brenda says:

      I would prefer marble signage explaining how the items inside were collected and what role indigenous and/or enslaved people played in the collection. I think people should know they’re enjoying the fruits of exploitation.

    4. Rob G. says:

      Our trendy wokeness has turned us into scorched-earthers. If this idiocy keeps up, we’ll have not a shred of history from which the next generation can judge and learn from.

      • Fred's Boil says:

        yes, good point! It’s right because the only way to learn history is from looking at racist statues. :roll eyes:

      • Matt says:

        You don’t think a statue of any of the countless abolitionists, freed slaves, civil rights heroes would be better than this statue? I pass by this statue every day, I love Teddy R, but the statue is clearly built in the framing of the white savior riding in on a horse to lead and uplift uplift the poor and helpless native and slave. Which is well intended but a really antiquated way to frame the work. I would rather a new statue be erected than stairs, but this statue doesn’t need to be there.

        • LL says:

          What slave? This was about Africa, not Black Americans.

          I dont think it depicts a white savior at all. But that doesn’t matter because it elicits a lot of discomfort from people, which matters right now.

          No. The statue is about exploration. And as of right now, because there is a white man on a statue, rising above two POCs, it reads as white supremacy. In this climate, not good, and not worth it.

      • Karen Bruno says:

        These people are Marxists and they won’t be satisfied until there are re-education camps. Disgusting!

    5. John E. says:

      “The two figures at [Roosevelt’s] side are guides symbolizing the continents of Africa and America, and if you choose may stand for Roosevelt’s friendliness to all races.” —Sculptor James Earle Fraser, 1940

      From the man who created the statue!

      And by the way, take a hard look at Fraser’s more famous statue – End of the Trail which will tell you how much respect and sympathy he had for Native Americans.

      People are so ignorant ..

      • Leon says:

        Thank you. The woke mafia is expending all of their energy looking for reasons to be upset. Meanwhile, the Republicans are laser focused on disenfranchising people so they can win elections, and we are letting them do it because we are wasting our time on fake problems.

        This is an embarrassment. As a moderate Democrat I thought I was surrounded by likeminded people on the UWS. But I feel like a Fox News-loving Trumper compared to these people. Perhaps some day they will leave Manhattan and meet real Republicans and see how good they have it.

      • Huh says:

        An interesting part of the quote is
        “and if you choose may stand for Roosevelt’s friendliness to all races.” It sounds like a wink wink moment to me, meaning that’s not what’s intended, but go ahead and think that “if you choose”

      • ben says:

        Sadly people only see what they want to see. I suppose the fact that the two guides are on feet behind Teddy riding a horse doesn’t help with the perception. I just hope they keep the statue somewhere because I’m sure one day the wokeness is going to swing the other way around and people will then demand to have Teddy back. Sigh.

      • Matt says:

        I mean…yes Roosevelt was extraordinarily leftwing even by todays standards, he’d be considered a socialist, economically speaking. But culturally, he was quite racist, even if he was “friendly” to other races. He was a strong supporter of eugenics, “pure blood lines”, colonization, and imperialism as a vehicle to revel in his masculinity. This statue is no different. But as you say,John,
        people are so ignorant….

        • Ll says:

          Yes. And read about the history of the indigenous peiple of the Americas. They were massacring each other before and after Europeans arrived. Same for Africa. Human history is not pretty.

          Martin Luther King was not what one would call a feminist. Malcolm X was pretty bigoted. How are we go8ng to judge people? Teddy Roosevelt did many grrat things for this country, and he also engaged in wars that hindsight were not great. How do we judge him? What matters more?

        • John E. says:

          Matt, ignorant to what James Earle Fraser intended the statue to represent.

          You and everyone else who don’t like Teddy Roosevelt are more than welcome to boycott the Museum of Natural History, but tearing down a beautiful piece of art is simply appalling and a useless gesture for solving the real problems of racism in this country.

          • SadforUWS says:

            There are very disturbing parallels to this manic obsession with removing statues to what occurred in Nazi Germany, Communist China and of course, USSR. The once respected, even honorable Democratic party with it’s liberal ideals (RFK would have been a great President), has been bullied into accepting divisive, hateful rhetoric regarding race. This new Democrat party is even unrecognizable to those who were in lockstep with the policies of Bill Clinton. Marxist ideology has invaded and corrupted the minds of so many in positions of power, and this country, which is a true multi-ethnic country, will not survive all this division COMING FROM THE LEFT. We will all suffer for it.

      • Jerry says:

        Fair point, John E., but you should have included a link to the entire AMNH web page that contains the Fraser quote, as you mislead by what you omit. To wit: “I don’t think any educator in New York City would describe Roosevelt as a racial unifier. In fact, quite the opposite. And the portrayal of the superiority of his figure on horseback [with] half-naked African and Native American [men] carrying his rifles on foot is a very stark illustration not of racial unity but of racial hierarchy.”
        —Andrew Ross, Director of American Studies Program, New York University

        • michael says:

          So where does this stop.

          Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator…” But he owned slaves. Do we reconsider the constitution or his memorial?

          Patric Henry exclaimed “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Yet he never let one of his slaves go free.

          The realities of history are truly discomforting. What you wrote could be taught to our children using this statue as an excellent example.

          Removed, we now lose that ability.

        • John E. says:

          Jerry, and you omitted this!

          “Pope refers to the figures as a ‘heroic group.’ That’s important. In some criticisms, the standing figures were taken to be lesser than Roosevelt. That was never the intention. They are allegorical figures representing Africa and America, emphasized by the animals on the parapet reliefs.”—Harriet F. Senie, Director, M.A. Art History, Art Museum Studies, The City College of New York

          I think Harriet F. Senie’s analysis carries more weight when it comes to art interpretation.

      • Michael says:

        While it is true that the first black slaves in “America” were purchased with Native American slaves from Connecticut (Loewen, 2007), many Native Americans lived and worked happily alongside their new European residents.

        We cannot teach our children the complexity of what truly happened by tearing down images we disagree with. This is simply a far left form of indoctrination.

        • Brandon says:

          Why are you so invested in defending this statute and its placement? How does it help teach this rich, “complex” historical narrative you speak of? It’s hardly nuanced.

          I’d suspect you were a Roosevelt, except even they think the statue should go.

    6. wombatNYC says:

      Teddy should be there – Maybe they can carve out the other 2 folks and just leave Teddy.

    7. WombatNYC says:

      Woke is a Joke

    8. Wayne Z. says:

      Eventually this museum will be emptied and turned into condos.

    9. Katherine says:

      “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

      – George Orwell, 1984

      • Richard says:

        “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
        – George Orwell, 1984

        Well, let’s see… this statue will not be destroyed nor renamed, as if Teddy Roosevelt never existed; it will remain a statue of Teddy Roosevelt, but in some other location. Teddy Roosevelt will, in no way, be erased from the history books; he will continue to live on in history – and in many, many history books – as well he should. He just won’t have a heroic statue of him in front of The Museum of Natural History. Big difference.

      • Brie Hoffman says:

        Yep, I feel like we are entering into a horror picture where the evil children call the shots!

    10. Jeremy says:

      This always reminded me of the Soviet statues of the same period depicting the enlightened Soviet (ie, Russian) man leading the various peoples of the Union into enlightenment. It’s a genre that’s a product of its time. Interesting, but perhaps no longer deserving of such a prominent placement with a world-renowned institution.

    11. michael says:

      A terrible decision. The history with Native Americans is complex and very poorly understood – and certainly by those that opposed this statue. This was done out of anger and with a victimization agenda. It amazes me how those with no depth of understanding seem to have the loudest voices. Such a shame, but I suspect the AMNH had no choice given the current political environment.

      • Jerry says:

        @ Michael…I actually think the AMNH had no choice based on the image of racial superiority that is depicted by the sculpture. That does indeed make the decision a product of our current political environment, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

    12. Fred Flintstone says:

      Put a nice dinosaur out front! No dinosaurs were hurt in this collection.

    13. Bob Lamm says:

      Bravo. So glad this statue will be gone

    14. middleman says:

      Did anyone ever suggest to “alter” the statue, instead of removing it entirely? It would be difficult but not impossible to remove the Native American and Black man. Keep the history of Teddy Roosevelt as a president and explorer by keeping a standalone statue. And at the base of the statue, explain and educate why the statue was altered.

    15. West Side Lawyer says:

      The curious thing is that wokeness exhibits the very same savior complex that is said to render the statue irredeemable.

    16. Ella says:

      Bunch of cowards giving in to the woke crowd

    17. robert says:

      So when will the progressive/woke mob come for MLK/FDR? MLK as a church leader he did not support the gay-rights movement of the 60’s. FDR interned Japanese-American citizens without due process. People should be viewed in their totality, as should what they accomplished. Dig deep enough and you will find something on all historical figures.
      There should not be a whitewashing, nor should there be this complete removal of subjects. Yes things/people can be cheered about one part and booed by another. Just removing parts of history will not change it and/or educate future generations about it, good and bad.

    18. Tom says:

      Cool. Now do Franklin Roosevelt. FDR was a racist and bigot, who literally imprisoned American citizens because of their race and Japanese ethnicity during WW2. Yet there’s a whole island off of manhattan bearing his name. And on the island “Roosevelt Park” with a bust of FDR’s likeness. When will these be renamed and removed?

    19. Jim Cash says:

      Statue always seemed respectful to me. Teddy would be proud of what great strides this action will make in society. So many of our past efforts to resolve the blatant unfairness of our city have yielded great results and I expect this city will immediately become more livable.

    20. UWSConcerned says:

      Why not replace it with a different statute of Roosevelt?

    21. Steevie says:

      Roosevelt is memorialized because of what he did for conservation, which is more than any other president. He did intensely dislike Indians and his attitude toward Blacks was probably about what most New Yorkers of the late 19th and early 20th century was. He did not want to harm them or take away their rights, but he did not have a very high opinion of them. Their is no need for a natural history museum to have a statue in front of their building, which seems to make some kind of racial statement.

    22. Peter says:

      The real opportunity now? Put the statue on view in the museum with opportunities for comments about its history…and contemporary perspectives from respected writers. Let’s not deny our history; let’s learn about it. It’s imperative for young people to see history in action, alive.

    23. Leelee says:

      thank HEAVENS. it’s such an embarrassment to the UWS and to the city! it can’t happen too soon.

    24. K says:

      Roosevelt’s family also agreed with removing the statue. Although perhaps not meant with malice, it is one of the best visual and physical representations of white supremacy as anything is. It’s hard for many fair-minded people to see it and admit it. A step in the right direction, albeit symbolic.

    25. Karen Merson says:

      why not keep the plaque that’s now in front of it?

    26. I think we’ve lost an opportunity to have a learning experience; to put this dramatic piece within a frame, explain how it came to be the way it was: to put a frame around it so as to not just to accept it at face value, but see it rather as an expression of the times that created it.

      But okay.

      I’d say hey: you could put it on the roof of my building… I could attach a sign to it that might explain the social hierarchy of the time but… it does look a tad heavy, so…

      Farewell dramatic Teddy; you were a much beloved president in your day!

    27. Fed up says:

      When will this ridiculous dismantling of historic statues and sites end? This isn’t a fairy tale. It’s history. Only by acknowledging, accepting and remembering the past can we ever hope to not repeat its darker moments!!!

    28. Ronald Barrett says:

      Revisionist fools.

    29. Joey says:

      The statue indicates that President Teddy Roosevelt was probably left handed. His revolver is in a cross draw holster on his right hip. This would necessitate him using his left hand to draw and fire his weapon.

    30. Sharon says:

      Statues do not teach us history. So getting rid of offensive ones is not destroying history. American school systems teach a very white washed view of our history. What we need to do is start teaching real history that recognizes the brutalities against native Americans and slaves.

    31. Wendy says:

      There is a statue of Teddy Roosevelt on a horse (as a rough rider with hat and all) in Oyster Bay near the waterfront park named after him. It would be nice to see that in front of the museum instead. The museum has a very interesting panorama in the front lobby by the statue which is annotated to reflect the colonial, racist renderings of the Indians meeting the Pilgrims. It’s quite enlightening especially to a former child who grew up looking at these panoramas. There is also a small exhibit upstairs about the controversy around this statue. Well worth the visit.

    32. biffmeister says:

      Pathetic, woke, useful idiots. God bless America and our history. All nations are imperfect and many had slavery in their pasts, but only the USA continues to attract people from all over the world, as evidenced by our Southern border—you know, where there is no crisis.

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